Sunday, May 2, 2010

Central Park Report

From a correspondent:
Today, I went to Central Park to get some early morning birding in. I got there around 8am and entered at E. 76th Street. When I began to head south toward the sailboat pond, there literally were offleash dogs everywhere - on the paths, on the grass, and when I got to the sailboat pond, they were in and around that as well. Two women were actually tossing a ball and a stick into the water for their dogs to fetch. There are signs in the park which say dogs are not allowed in water bodies, but they were not being heeded. I passed by 2 park rangers who were watching over participants in the 5-boro bike tour, either protecting the bikers or preventing them from straying off course. The offleash dogs were passing right in front of them and they paid them no mind whatsoever. I continued on my way to the boathouse and there were offleash dogs in the outdoor cafeteria area as well as inside the building. There also was a woman turning on the drinking fountain outside the bathrooms so her dog could drink from it, and he stood on his hind legs and did so. Upon entering the Ramble – sure enough – signs said dogs must be on a leash but they were completely ignored. Offleash dogs were everywhere. I found it curious that there was one fellow who was holding his small dog and pointing at something. He then let the dog go, and it chased 2 Robins in the grass and a squirrel before another off leash dog ran after it. More of the same was found around the Turtle Pond. There had to be at least a thousand offleash dogs along my path today, and when 9am passed, not much had changed. There were fewer dogs encountered at that hour, but they were still offleash.

I seriously felt like I had stepped into a world where the inmates had taken over the asylum.

So what are the “designated offleash areas” of Central Park?

According to the Central Park Conservancy:

Dogs are prohibited in playgrounds, display fountains, bodies of water reserved for wildlife, ballfields (Great Lawn, North Meadow, Heckscher), the Elm Islands at the Mall, Sheep Meadow, East Green and Strawberry Fields.

Dogs must be leashed at all times in the following locations:
In the woodlands (Ramble, North Woods), on the bridle path, Conservatory Garden, Cedar Hill, Kerbs Boathouse Plaza (at the model boat pond), Arthur Ross Pinteum, Turtle Pond and other areas where signs are posted.

And these are the dog-friendly areas:

This experience so horrified me that I plan to go back with a video camera one day. It would make for a shocking movie.

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