Dog Owners Outmuscle Bird Lovers

By Matt Baume
|  Monday, Mar 14, 2011  |  Updated 3:30 PM PDT
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Dog Owners Outmuscle Bird Lovers

Jonnie England

Bridget and her puppies will eventually need a home.

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There are more endangered species in San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area than there are in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and King's Canyon combined.

But not for much longer: those species are being wiped out by residents' off-leash dogs.

San Franciscans have long fought for the right to walk their dogs wherever they please, and they're not ready to let a few endangered quail get in their way. A proposal to enforce leash laws in the city's national parks has been met with outcry from pet owners, and the National Park Service may have to reverse course.

It's not the first time this has happened, according to the Ex. A decade ago, the NPS wanted to limit off-leash dogs around Fort Funston, but the city threatened to take the land away rather than force owners to put their dogs on leashes.

As a result, animals are vanishing from areas that were once protected. That includes the marbled murrelet, the snowy plover, the spotted owl, sea otters, and even humpback whales. The disappearance of one species has a ripple effect throughout the entire ecosystem.

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