In response to Bob Armstrong's letter of April 8, 2004: I have grown up in Juneau. I have a lifetime of experience observing the birds and dogs out at the wetlands/dike trail. I walk on this trail every day and I just don't see the harassment by dogs toward migratory birds that folks are saying they see. It simply is not true.
Dogs out at the wetland are having a far less impact on the area than the people are, in my opinion. The migratory birds that Mr. Armstrong mentioned, as being especially harassed by dogs, are the ducks and the geese. These birds are certainly being disturbed but not by dogs. Every year I dread the hunting season. I've always thought it was such a contradiction to call the wetlands a refuge and then to allow hunters to shoot the birds while they are migrating through the area. This really is a true harassment. Some folks say that it's the dogs that are disturbing the migrating birds. Honestly, I just think the dogs are disturbing people who don't like dogs. Also, one thing about the Department of Fish and Game that not everyone knows is that the hunters generate millions of dollars every year for the state. I suspect this is why the hunters are allowed to shoot the migrating birds out at the wetlands. But we don't want the dogs out there? It's really the same old scenario of the big-dollar special-interest groups getting to do things the way they want to.
What I see at the wetlands are geese and ducks that are highly adaptable to their environments. I see them feeding and resting peacefully at the wetlands without being troubled by dogs. I see trails that have impacted the vegetation, but these trails were made by people, not by the dogs.
I have never ever seen a bird displaced by a dog at the wetlands. This past hunting season, I did come across a half-dead duck. I cradled the duck in my arms not knowing what to do. A hunter came by and convinced me to hand the bird over to him. I did. He broke its neck. The plain truth is that the decline in birds that we may or may not be seeing at the wetlands is not due to the dogs, it's due to human activity and it's happening everywhere. Please stop claiming it's the dogs. It is us.