Several incidents in the past year have raised concerns about dog owners ignoring posted signs that prohibit dogs in the Lodi Lake nature area.
The most recent disturbance was reported last week when a large dog was seen chasing after a deer. Later that morning a dead deer was found on Turner Road near the lake.
“The two events could be completely unrelated, but we have had cases where dogs have attacked other animals in the nature area,” said Lodi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood, recalling an incident last year when a dog killed a squirrel in front of a child.
Hood noted that deer find dogs threatening and that their presence in the nature area could prevent future deer from inhabiting the area.
“We are fortunate to have a healthy variety of animals present in the nature area. Our nature area provides a unique element of nature in an urban environment,” Hood said.
Hood said that park rangers are sometimes met with hostility when informing dog owners that their dogs are not allowed in the nature area.
“People belittle them, cuss at them, and other people that visit the trail have experienced the same thing when they let dog owners know that they are not allowed on the trail,” Hood said.
Due to a lack of compliance, Hood warns that park rangers will be inclined to write fines for park violations.
“These fines are several hundreds of dollars that cost anywhere from $350 to $500,” Hood said.
The city has ordinances that outline the rules and spaces designated for dogs in Lodi’s parks.
“This isn’t an ordinance issue, it is more of an enforcement issue,” Hood said.
Although Hood did not specify the city’s expected plan of action, he did say that the nature area has surveillance and that park rangers are located throughout the park.
Hood says that policing the use of the trail is aimed at ensuring the safety of all park visitors and the animals that live in the nature area.
“I personally like dogs, but not everybody does. All we ask is that people are mindful of and respectful of other people and other animals,” Hood said.
As parks staff work to preserve the nature area’s ecosystem, they hope people will be more aware of the animals and visitors on the trails.
More information regarding the Lodi Lake nature area can be found on the city’s website at www.lodi.gov under the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department tab.