During COVID-19, outdoors is still a great place to be active if you follow social distancing.
The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority is also reminding people to keep your dogs on leash and poop and scoop while you’re on conservation area trails.
"When you get out to enjoy nature, make sure that you are practicing social distancing, being responsible, and not risking your (or other’s) health or safety. Don’t meet up with anyone living outside of your household, and always keep at least a 1.5 meter distance from those around you on the trails," says a news release from the Authority.
“And if you are taking your dog, they must be leashed to protect wildlife, you and your dog,” said Troy Storms, Manager of Lands and Stewardship for NBMCA.
NBMCA manages 16 conservation areas and trails in the watershed. Trails are not maintained in winter. Amenities such as washrooms are closed for the season and will remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As spring rolls around and people are looking to go outside and access outdoor spaces for their physical and mental health, NBMCA is receiving more complaints of dogs off-leash in Laurier Woods, Laurentian Escarpment, Corbeil Conservation Areas and others.
"Even though a dog may be friendly and mean no harm, if it rushes up to people it may in its excitement knock over children, disabled or elderly persons and frighten non-dog owners who aren’t accustomed to dogs. It’s not okay to shout out 'its ok, he’s friendly' while the dog runs ahead," continues the release.
“We want all members of the public to enjoy hiking with their dogs in natural areas. But they need to respect the law regarding dogs on leash and under control. Leashed dogs, along with cleaning up pet waste, is not only respectful and courteous to others using the trail, it’s the law,” added Storms.
Under the Ontario Conservation Authorities Act regulations, dogs and cats are allowed in Conservation Areas provided they are on a leash no longer than two metres.
If they are running at large, or the pet waste is not properly disposed of, the owners could receive a provincial offences ticket and a $95 fine. The City of North Bay, Municipality of East Ferris and other municipalities where conservation areas are located also have bylaws for scooping poop and keeping dogs leashed when they’re off private property.