Thursday, July 2, 2009

Scofflaws in Tampa-St, Pete; Another Park Census

From today's St. Petersburg Times:
As a longtime volunteer at Honeymoon Island State Park, please allow me to respond to Ken Mayeaux's letter written after he was cited for violating the animal leash regulations at the park. He asks if a DEP officer doesn't have "something more important to do," and writes that the officer should issue tickets to those causing harm to the environment. Well, Mr. Mayeaux, that's exactly what the officer was doing.

Honeymoon Island had 1.2 million visitors in the last year. Thousands of those guests also brought their canine friends — a privilege not afforded at most beaches. Due to critical nesting bird habitats, defecation and uncontrolled vicious animals, the hand-held leash law is a necessity.

For several years, violators had been receiving verbal warnings. But, as often happens, the actions of a few cause stricter enforcement. Pet Beach, in particular, where Mr. Mayeaux received his citation, has numerous colonies of terns and plovers that are in peril due to the problem of loose dogs running rampant over their nesting areas.

My dogs are always on leash, not only to abide by the law and protect the habitat, but also due to the potentially dangerous marine life in Hurricane Pass and the occasional rattlesnake in the dunes.

We see it every day at the park: A few people feel that these regulations do not apply to them. I'm sorry to hear about the $75 fine, Mr. Mayeaux, but hopefully it will be a deterrent to others.

It is imperative that dogs are controlled in sensitive environmental areas.
Exactly what we've been saying.

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In a circuit of Prospect Park on the perimeter road this morning around 7 A.M. we saw four illegally unleashed dogs. There were very few dogs on Long Meadow. Of 114 pedestrians encountered in the circuit, 67 were non-white.

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