Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Binghamton Experience

The Binghamton University campus contains a 182-acre nature preserve, including a 20-acre wetland. The university uses it as an ecology laboratory, but it is open to the public. Here are two signs we found outside the entrance

According to the folks in Binghamton, it is sufficient reason for dogs to be leashed that “dogs may kill or harass wildlife, annoy people and destroy habitats”. How are New York City dogs better behaved? And dogs’ “feces add bacteria and parasites to the water that local wildlife drinks.” According to the Prospect Park website, “Dogs are allowed in the water at the Lake adjacent to the Peninsula meadow during off-leash hours.” It may surprise readers of this blog, but cannot possibly surprise those who run Prospect Park, that the park is home to ample wildlife, including (but, as they say in legalese, not limited to) squirrels, raccoons, and seasonally some 200 species of birds. One searches in vain for words to describe the DOPR official who approved this giveaway. Irresponsible, heedless, a jerk, corrupt, all come to mind but somehow seem inadequate. And is quite clear who this DOPR official is, and how the giveaway came to be, although it took a few years. See FIDO's Spring, 2004 newsletter:

"Finally, a note to all the denizens of the Peninsula who were dismayed to see those “No Pets in Lake” signs: one benefit of FIDO’s presence at all those Park meetings is access to the Powers That Be. The signs should be modified or removed by the time the water warms up. (Thanks, Tupper!)"

One wonders what those who are in charge of the Binghamton nature preserve were thinking when they allowed leashed dogs in the preserve at all. According to this article in the September 11, 2007 New York Times, “Australian researchers have found that walking leashed dogs along woodland paths leads to a significant reduction in the number and diversity of birds in the area, at least over the short term. “ According to one of the researchers, “If dogs walk throughout an area, you’re just not going to get the same bird-watching experience or ecotourism experience.” Our guess is that the folks in Binghanton were unwilling or unable to devote the resources required to patrol the preserve, and hoped that if dog owners were permitted to bring leashed dogs, they’d accept the "compromise "and not let them run loose. The New York City park experience during the “courtesy hours” era is that that sort of belief is foolish and naive, an experience confirmed by the other distressing sign, which says such things as “This is a Nature Preserve NOT a dog park.” and “Due to recent complaints and visitors being attacked, dogs may be barred from the Nature Preserve” and “Be courteous to other visitors—It is not your right to subject other people to harassment from your dog. People who are scared of dogs have a right to walk in peace.”

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A small bit of good news. It seems from this article in today’s New York Times that the leash law is being enforced, albeit outside the parks by, of all agencies, the Sanitation Department.

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