Pets in our National Parks
In general, pets are permitted but must be restrained either on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, caged or crated at all times. Park Superintendents and Managers have the discretion to further restrict areas open to pets (i.e., trails, buildings, campgrounds may be off limits).
Restrictions on pets in parks are as much to protect your pet as to protect park resources. Following are some of the reasons parks give for regulating the presence of pets:
- When a loose pet chases a squirrel or raccoon, the wild animal's ability to survive is threatened, and when it is threatened, it may react aggressively.
- There is a strong possibility in parks such as Yellowstone that your pet could become prey for bear, coyote, owl, or other predators.
- There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals and wildlife.
- Dogs, the most common traveling companion, are natural predators that may harass or even kill native wildlife that is protected within the park's boundaries.
- The "scent of a predator" that dogs leave behind can disrupt or alter the behavior of native animals.
- Pets may be hard to control, even on a leash, within confines of often narrow park trails and may trample or dig up fragile vegetation.
- Dog and cat feces add excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution to water, which decreases water quality and can also cause human health problems.
- Finally, lost domestic animals sometimes turn to preying on park wildlife and must be destroyed.
It is always best to check with the park(s) you are planning to visit for specific information and restrictions for pets.