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Waterfowl experts ask dog owners to keep pooches on leashes around nests

(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 25, 2017 at 5:42 PM AKDT
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With waterfowl returning to places like the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, experts are reminding dog owners to keep their four-legged friends on leashes around bird habitat.

The refuge is home to many birds including ducks, geese, sand hill cranes and many more.

Wildlife officials say dogs often discover nests and can displace incubating females.

Area biologist Dave Battle with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the state has a short nesting season.

"The nesting season is kind of compressed here in Alaska because we're so far north," Battle said.

Experts said if a hen loses a nest, she is unlikely to lay a second clutch of eggs.

Migratory birds and their nests are protected from harassment by state law and under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, even around off-leash dog parks.

"Even in dog parks as far as municipality goes, it's an off -leash park, but if someone lets their dog harass wildlife or harass migratory birds off the nest that still is a violation of migratory bird treaty act," Battle said.

A posted sign at the refuge said a violation of refuge laws could result in a class 'A' misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and one year in jail.