Bird Watchers Vs Dogs In Prospect Park

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Prospect Park, dog and shore birds
We’re currently in the peak season when migratory birds pass through the city on their way their summer homes — here’s a great list of just some of the interesting birds you might see. And our big backyard of Prospect Park is one of the best places in the city to go bird watching, as more than 200 species of birds can been seen there throughout the year. But the park is, of course, shared by all kinds of people using it for all kinds of things — and that can cause a bit of friction.

Things tend to heat up between birders and dog owners around the park, according to a story in the Times, which notes that birders are concerned because off-leash dogs in areas where they’re supposed be tethered can “distress birds and can trample the delicate underbrush where birds feed and nest.” Both birders and dog owners say things have gotten pretty nasty, with people exchanging threats.

Part of the problem, birders feel, may be that dog owners don’t know the off-leash rules, or that those rules aren’t being enforced. A spokesperson for the park tells the Times that they’re working on replacing some signs, and that officers have given out 141 dog-related summonses so far this year, compared to 171 in all of last year.

So, dog owners and bird watchers, what has your experience been in the park? Do you think there’s a problem with people ignoring off-leash rules, or do you think the birders are overreacting?

If you’re interested in getting a look at some neat birds as they stop by the park, join a tour that starts at the Audubon Center every Saturday at noon. And to meet some fellow dog-lovers, check out FIDO’s Coffee Bark at the meadow near the Picnic House on the first Saturday of the month, and brush up on the off-leash regulations here.

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