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Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Forest Service clarifies dog leash rule in Boundary Waters, lessening confusion on what’s allowed for hunters

Earlier this year, this now-enforceable rule raised questions and concerns about whether it would restrict hunting dogs to 6-foot leashes during an active hunt. The short answer is no. (Photo courtesy of Rob Drieslein)

Duluth, Minn. — On Wednesday, July 10, the U.S. Forest Service reiterated its rule regarding the enforcement of dogs on a 6-foot or shorter leash – except while actively hunting – in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

According to the agency’s July 10 press release, the rule has been in effect for national forests for years, but now it’ll be enforced in the BWCAW and Superior National Forest.

Violators of the rule could be fined $50 or more.

Earlier this year, this now-enforceable rule raised questions and concerns about whether it would restrict hunting dogs to 6-foot leashes during an active hunt.

The short answer is no.

“If you are engaged in an active hunt and you’re out with a hunting dog that’s going to retrieve birds or point birds, you can have your dog off-leash,” Cathy Quinn, assistant manager of wilderness on the Superior National Forest, said in the July 10 release. 

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The regulation focuses on leashing dogs that are in designated recreation areas such as campsites, boat landings, hiking trails, portages, and fishing piers.

Even if a hunter and his or her off-leash dog pass through a trail or campsite, it is permitted if they are actively hunting.

Sportsman for the Boundary Waters Executive Director Lukas Leaf originally was concerned in late June about the ambiguity this leash enforcement could cause for hunters and his or her ability to hunt with dogs.

However, Wednesday’s new clarification reassured him that this rule won’t encroach on huntable land in the Boundary Waters.

“This added clarity will reduce ambiguity for hunters and Forest Protection Officers during the Minnesota hunting season. We look forward to working with the USFS as they update the existing BWCAW educational materials to reflect the new interpretation of the dog leash rule released today,” Leaf said in a statement.

The press release cited an increase in complaints from the public, recreation managers, and wilderness rangers about dogs off-leash on hiking trails, at campsites, and at portages in both the BWCAW and Superior National Forest.

“In sharing the official language from the code of federal regulations, we hope to raise awareness and educate visitors regarding responsible dog handling while visiting a national forest,” the press release states.

Previously, dogs could be on leashes or under voice control in these public spaces, but that was deemed insufficient to mitigate complaints.

Disturbances and animal safety are why this change will be enforced in public areas within the BWCAW and Superior National Forest. According to the release, the regulation is in place to reduce accidents and liability from unleashed pets during interactions with other people who are recreating, and wildlife.

It’s also a measure to ensure pet safety.

“Annually, visitors lose dogs within the BWCAW due to a run-away or wildlife encounter,” the release said.

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