Dog Access Restricted in WSU Arboretum and Wildlife Conservation Center

PULLMAN, Wash. – Rover and research do not mix – especially in a university facility dedicated to wildlife conservation and science.

Washington State University officials will be changing dog access policies in the new WSU Arboretum and Wildlife Conservation Center on the Pullman campus to better protect sensitive wildlife that will be living there.  According to Rod Sayler, project director, dog access must be carefully regulated on the 170-acre landscape established for the arboretum and wildlife center because of research activities and strict federal, state and university animal care regulations.

“Part of the wildlife conservation center is devoted to studies of threatened and endangered animals or other important wildlife species,” said Sayler.  “We are absolutely required by law to protect these animals.  The new arboretum also will contain a designated wildlife area where people can watch hawks, owls and many other kinds of Palouse Prairie wildlife in a natural setting.”

Keith Blatner, chair of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, said that there have been several recent incidents in which well intentioned people walking dogs on a leash have lost control of their animals, which in turn have charged pens containing confined deer. The deer panicked and ran into the surrounding fence trying to escape.  “A large number of these deer are pregnant females, and we simply cannot have dogs, even if they are on a leash, get close to these beautiful creatures,” he said.

Initial construction of trails, parking areas and other features in the new arboretum will require that the area be posted as a construction zone during the summer, restricting access by the general public.  “So, people who may be used to walking their dogs in the arboretum will not be able to do so during the period of construction anyway,” Sayler said.  “We are posting signs in the arboretum limiting dog access for the time being and warning the public that future dog access will be eliminated in the AWCC except for small designated areas near parking lots.”

WSU policy generally allows owners to walk dogs on a leash on campus, except in specially designated research areas with restricted access. Leashed dogs may be walked on a paved path extending for more than two miles along a trail system bordering the WSU Palouse Ridge Golf Club and the WSU Arboretum and Wildlife Conservation Center.