NPWS concerned over increased dog walking in national parks

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is concerned about the number of people taking their dogs into national parks in and around the Illawarra.

Dog being walked on leash at Willoughbys Beach campground, Murray Valley Regional Park which is a dog-friendly park

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Graham Bush said that while it is great to see so many people using parks to exercise, walking with dogs is having a major impact on native wildlife and other park users.

'NPWS recently received reports of dogs attacking bushwalkers on the Illawarra Escarpment,' Mr Bush said.

'We are looking into this very serious matter and want to remind people that it is illegal to take dogs into national parks.

'While those caught with a dog can face fines of $300, we are ultimately appealing to people to be responsible pet owners and respectful park users.

'Dogs can also have a significant impact on local wildlife.

'Unlike some other local parks, national parks are designated protected areas that are specifically managed for their biodiversity values.

'Even the most well-behaved dog can inadvertently scare or harm native wildlife.

'Dogs will also leave their scent in the bush and this may keep wildlife away or disrupt their natural behaviour.

'NPWS also regularly conducts pest management programs across our parks and reserves making these areas unsafe for pets.

'Pest management programs such as fox control use 1080 baits to protect native animals from introduced species.

'These baits are lethal to domestic dogs which is again why people should please keep their pets out of parks,' Mr Bush said.

NPWS is increasing patrols and pet owners face fines of $300 if domestic dogs are detected within a national park area.

Dogs are permitted in state forests, as well as in some regional parks and local council reserves.