OUTDOORS & RECREATION

On-leash order placed for Tanner Park due to visiting elk herd

Mar 4, 2023, 5:32 PM | Updated: 5:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — It was that time of the week and Sadie knew it.

“Oh my gosh. She waits by the door every Saturday and Sunday morning,” said Sadie’s owner, Kate Deschamps.

There is no doubt Sadie knows weekends are all about going to the dog park.

“She is so smart,” Deschamps said. “She knows the drive here, and she’s like, okay, I know where we’re going.”

What Sadie didn’t know was that she would have to stay on-leash at her favorite off-leash Salt Lake City dog park. It is all because of another animal also visiting the park.

“The elk are big, big animals and all dogs instinctively want to chase them,” Deschamps said.

Salt Lake City park rangers were busy putting up signs and talking to dog owners Saturday morning, letting them know Parley’s Historic Nature Park, also known as Tanner Park, is now temporarily on-leash only.

“We are not here to write tickets or anything. We are just here to educate people to keep dogs safe and keep the elk safe,” said Salt Lake City Park Ranger Nahuel Tulian to a dog owner at the trailhead.

With so much snow in the mountains near the park, an elk herd has been making its way down looking for food for the past month. That herd has caused some traffic problems on Interstate 215 and Interstate 80 near Parley’s Canyon.

With Tanner Park close by, the herd has also made its way into the park.

“We’ve got tons of dogs out here, and so there can be negative interactions with elk. We’ve had that happen in the past few weeks,” Tulian explained.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued the temporary on-leash order this week to keep dogs from chasing them, either causing the elk to run back to the interstate, or possibly injuring the dog or people.

The order could last until the end of April, depending on how long the herd stays at the park. If the snow in the mountains melts to the point elk could better find food, there is a chance they will leave the park earlier.

It is not what Sadie wanted to hear.

“I know she chases deer, so I think it’s just a bigger deer to her,” Deschamps said.

Even still, Sadie probably figures a weekend on-leash walk is still better than no walk.

“Oh yeah. We will still come and take a walk,” Deschamps expressed. “This is her thing.”

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On-leash order placed for Tanner Park due to visiting elk herd