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June 19, 2012

MADISON - Many people see state wildlife areas as good places to take dogs for walks and exercise, but doing so during the spring nesting season is not good for many ground and shrub-nesting birds. That's why, with the exception of designated Class 1 dog training areas, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires all dogs be leashed on state lands from April 15 through July 31.

"Wisconsin's wildlife areas are important places for birds to nest, mammals to bear and raise young and frogs to eat bugs and sing," said Eric Lobner, DNR southern district regional wildlife manager. "While we whole heartedly want the public to use and enjoy state wildlife areas, it's also important to protect these areas for their role as nesting habitat for birds and other wildlife."

Lobner said that dogs roaming off leash during nesting season can have a negative impact on many bird species, especially birds that nest on the ground, such as western meadowlarks or other small grassland birds, waterfowl and pheasants.

Dogs can injure birds and will destroy nests because of their natural prey drive. Even if a dog simply flushes a bird off the nest or splits up young broods, those actions can stress birds, create a loss of energy and foraging time, and increase their vulnerability to other predators.

For more information about DNR natural areas and Class 1 dog training areas, visit the DNR website and search "state lands," and look under the tab for state wildlife areas.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Lobner - 608- 275-3474 or Don Bates, DNR area wildlife supervisor - 608-935-1947

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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