Animals get say in forests

It's been quite the fortnight for animal versus people stories in Kamloops and in each case there is an element in which the humans involved could have been a little wiser.

A protective mother moose at large at Stake Lake is giving clear signals to give her and her calf a wide berth. She has put the run on at least two dogs and frightened their owners in the past 14 days.

However, nothing less should be expected of her. This is her territory and she has a calf to look after. It's up to the people who visit the area to make sure they are not causing distress to the wildlife that live in the forests around Stake Lake.

Conservation officer Steven Wasylik offered the best advice to humans who like to ski or hike in the recreational area. Leave your dogs at home. This mother moose does not like dogs, even ones on a leash.

Two incidents of the moose going after dogs have been well-publicized. Alerts have been posted in the region so people understand that the moose is sensitive to dogs and could be dangerous.

It's a matter of common sense now to take precautions until the moose either moves on or her calf leaves her side. Even then, nature being what it is, she will likely soon have another baby to protect.

Then there was the dog attack story. Mickey Prefontaine went out for a walk on Lorne Street with his dog and three neighbouring dogs escaped their yard and went for his Australian shepherd. When Prefontaine intervened, he also became a target. He made it to his house with his dog, leaving the three other dogs so worked up they were "squealing like pigs."

His mistake was in not making a formal complaint with City bylaws. He said he feels badly for his neighbours who own the animals and doesn't want to cause them trouble.

It's not about his neighbours' feelings. They will feel much worse if the dogs escape again and take down a runner or a cyclist or a child. They may find themselves headed for jail for being party to an injury or a fatality caused by an animal they own and knew had a propensity for violence.

These dog owners also have a baby in the house, which should be their first priority. They may have convinced themselves these dogs are safe, but the attack on Prefontaine clearly indicates they have a serious problem on their hands.

Unlike the moose, these dogs live in people territory. While humans should conform to the rules of the wild in Stake Lake, on city turf, it's up to dogs and their owners to behave.

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