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Waterloo, Canada
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Hey guys I was looking at coming to waterton lakes in mid may, Ive read alot of warnings about dogs and the threat from mule deer, ive even read a few warnings saying don't go on any hiking trails with dogs during spring time, just wondering if this is something that should seriously dissuade me from going there at all?

Edited: 15 February 2011, 20:39
Kootenays, British...
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1. Re: Dogs

You are planning to enter the wilderness and there are some trade offs. Whether they will dissuade you from coming or not is really up to you. Waterton is a magnificent place to visit but you must realize that it belongs to the wildlife: bears (grizzly and black), wolves and cougars as well as mule deer, moose and elk. Any of these animals can pose a huge risk to you. If you obey the safety rules you will reduce the risk. Here's the rule at Waterton:

"Pets are permitted on hiking trails but must be on a leash at all times. Dogs and other pets may jeopardize your safety and theirs by provoking and attracting wildlife."

When I went to Waterton I left my dogs in a kennel in the back of my pickup parked in the shade. Once I got to know the place a little bit I walked them on one trail that seemed to have minimal risk of wildlife encounters. My dogs are quite used to bears and I wasn't overly worried about black bear encounters. We ran into a cow moose once but there was no aggression on either side. If she'd had a calf it might have been a different story.

In May it will be early spring in the mountains. The mulies, elk and moose will have their fawns/calves and will be aggressive protecting them. If your dog antagonizes them - watch out! The bears will have only recently come out of hibernation and they can be a bit more intent on a meat meal then than at other times (predatory). The cougar will have followed the deer into the easy pastures but they'll be pretty intent on deer and unlikely to get sidetracked by a human or a dog meal. I'd say it would be a good idea to avoid having your dog with you on the trails.

If you are reasonably cautious and avoid 'luring' the predators you should be fine. Your dog is a lure to predators and a threat to be dealt with to ungulates. It is preferable to make other arrangements for the dog - either leave him secure at base camp or leave him in a kennel off-site. I would take bear spray "just in case".

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2. Re: Dogs

I worked and lived in Waterton townsite for over one year, and can honestly say that you must take precautions when walking your dog anywhere in Waterton National Park.

Waterton Townsite has a huge population of large mule deer who live there year-round. They are very visible all over Town, and they are not afraid of humans. Consequently they can be very aggresive at times towards dogs and people.

The female mule deer will go out of their way and out of nowhere to attack dogs (and kill them), no matter what size your dog is. While your dog may be attacked year-round, the deer are particularly dangerous when they have given birth in April and May, and will often continue to do so even after the fawns look grown-up through the entire Summer.

We owned a Labrador Retriever who couldn't care less about deer and showed no interest in deer at all, yet we were constantly attacked year-round when taking walks. We always detoured whenever we saw deer along the way, and carried a stick which we did not hesitate to use on the deer to defend ourselves.

Hiking the backcountry with a dog is no different in Waterton than anywhere else in the Mountains. Always keep your dog on a short leash, and take the nornmal precautions against bears and cougers, as they are both quite plentiful in the Waterton back country. Cougers will not hesitate to attack small dogs even when they are on a leash beside you.

As an additional precaution, keep your dog away from parks and grassy areas, as we found both of these to be full of ticks, especially in early summer. While they don't carry lyme disease, they will attach themselves to your dog (and also to humans), and cause you some discomfort,

Note that Parks Canada strictly enforces regulations that state that you dog must be "on a leash" at all times, and posts warnings about deer attacks. I strongly urge you to contact the Parks Canada Waterton Park info centre and get advice about hiking/walking with your dog.

Edited: 18 February 2011, 16:43
3. Re: Dogs

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