You’ve Got Perfect Trail Etiquette, But How About Your Dog? Rangers Penned Hundreds Of Tickets In 2019 For Poor Pooch Protocol

Grace Hood/CPR News
Sarah Steinke and Keely Kleman hit the trails at Jefferson County’s Mount Galbraith parking lot. Finding parking is becoming an increasing challenge for the 7 million visitors who go to Jefferson County’s open space system every year.

In 2019, out-of-control dogs were the most heavily ticketed item by rangers along the Front Range's popular outdoor recreation spots. 

The city of Boulder reports nearly 600 tickets issued to dog owners who hiked with their animals off-leash and didn't have the proper permit to do so. Jefferson County Open Space rangers penned 450 tickets or citations for bad canine or owner behavior. 

Ranger Mary Ann Bonnell with Jefferson County Open Space said the area receives about 7 million human visitors and 3 million dog visitors each year. The vast majority of visitors are well behaved, but the remaining group requires intensive education and outreach. 

“I actually had a conversation with a gentleman who looked at me and said, ‘I've been hiking these trails for 24 years, and I don't think I should have to pick up after my dog, you don't have to pick up after bears,’” Bonnell said. “I looked at him and said, 'It's very different doo-doo, sir.'

Dog waste contains pathogens that can affect water and soil quality, Bonnell said.

In 2020, Jefferson County Open Space plans to launch Bark Watch, a training program aimed at arming volunteers with knowledge so they can help make trails safer and more waste-free.

Modeled after the Neighborhood Watch program, the idea is to increase awareness of trail rules and regulations in addition to teaching first aid for dogs.