Wildlife & Dogs Regulations

To help protect the wonderful diversity of wildlife and vegetation we enjoy in the North Branch River Park, we ask that all dogs be kept on a leash. Many people ask us why this is the rule, so below are the primary reasons we ask dog owners to leash their pets:
  1. To have at least 1 significant park where wildlife can be protected, viewed, and enjoyed in a natural environment
  2. For residents, and other park visitors, to have at least 1 park they can go to without having to worry about being confronted by unleashed dogs
Purpose of Rules
This rule came to be for many reasons:
  • One important reason North Branch River Park was protected was because it was appreciated and valued for its wildlife and its diversity. We want to protect these admirable traits for as long as possible, and dogs put certain wildlife at risk
  • More and more dogs are being included in walks through the parks, but not all dog owners are following city ordinances or the Parks' code of conduct. Relaxed interpretations of keeping dogs “under control” have had negative impacts on park visitors
Conflicts with Wildlife & Other Park Users
The conflicts with wildlife and other park users are as follows:
  • Some dogs “playfully” hunt, while others have more serious responses to instinctual urges. Even if dogs are unsuccessful in their “hunts”, the stress from the chase, disruptions to home or nest, or the extra expense of precious energy in winter can often prove fatal (Indirect Predation). Many animals found historically in the North Branch Park, such as wood turtles, otters, moose and turkeys are sensitive to harassment by dogs. Now signs of wildlife that have always been appreciated in the North Branch Park are becoming rare
  • Dogs can and have killed numerous animals and birds (Direct Predation). At least 2 adult deer and 1 fawn have been killed by dogs in recent years. We know this because virtually all remains were uneaten, which another animal in the wild would not do. The park has been home to many varieties of birds and small animals that live in the tall grasses near the paths, and we want to ensure the safety of these animals for the future
  • Numerous people have had negative experiences with uncontrolled dogs at some point in their lives. Having a place where people can go, without having to worry each time a dog comes close, is helpful in creating positive and peaceful park experiences
Dogs can be off leash in Hubbard Park as long as the city ordinance is followed. This ordinance states that "dogs must be under control at all times"… this also means no charging or threatening. City ordinance also states that the dog owner is responsible for picking up dog waste and taking it when they leave the park.

Hunting Season
Hikers please be aware of when you are in and out of the park, as one trail from North Branch Park extends deep into East Montpelier. During hunting season it is also recommended that you wear bright colors.