While dogs were on their best behavior this summer on Cheyenne Mountain State Park's trails, a three-month trial period brought more disastrous results at Mueller State Park.
Officials at the park south of Divide received numerous complaints about dogs on the trails and issued seven tickets for rule violations, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife release says.
The trial period began June 1 and was introduced as a way for both parks to evaluate whether dogs should permanently be allowed on certain trails.
It was an experiment that hinged on owners' ability to adhere to the parks' rules, which included keeping dogs on a hand-held leash no longer than 6 feet, picking up waste and avoiding confrontations with other animals or park visitors.
At Mueller State Park, some owners took their dogs onto restricted trails, failed to control their dogs, left waste on trails and let their dogs off their leashes, the release says. Some dogs reportedly chased wildlife and were aggressive, and there was a confrontation between visitors.
"We had reports of dogs chasing small wildlife such as foxes, squirrels and rabbits," park manager John Geerdes said in the release. "And we heard, over and over again, that people come here to hike because it is one of the last places they can do so and not encounter dogs. Many come for the wildlife experience and say dogs ruin that for them."
During the trial period, dogs were allowed on portions of the Homestead and Black Bear trails. When the trial ended Aug. 31, Geerdes evaluated the results, which included attendance numbers and 88 written and verbal comments. Many noticed fewer big game sightings along the trails.
"There was not enough positive evidence to justify allowing dogs on trails and in the backcountry," Geerdes said in the release.
Dogs will be banned from Mueller State Park's trails, but will continue to be allowed in the campground, picnic areas and along paved roads on a leash, the release says.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park officials are working to gain approval from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to officially change the park's regulations and allow dogs on certain trails. Parks guests left "a lot of favorable comments," park manager Mitch Martin said in a release.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198