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Neighbors are in an uproar over a dog killing ducks on the Swaner Preserve

Nesting grounds for birds and other wildlife on Swaner Preserve

Swaner Preserve received reports about a dog that’s killing waterfowl in and around the preserve boundary.

Sandhill cranes, ducks, and many other species of birds are nesting, feeding, and trying to survive spring.

Recent reports of a dog chasing and killing wildlife have upset some residents, and now Swaner Preserve has an opportunity to educate the public.

The nature preserve is a 1,200-acre wildlife refuge and home to several species of birds and wildlife. It also encompasses 350 acres on the north side of Interstate 80, near the Spring Creek Trailhead. Many restoration projects are going on and managed by the preserve.

Swaner Preserve Conservation Coordinator Rhea Cone says that many birds nest in the ground, and even though people can’t see the nests, dogs can smell them.

“Yeah, so spring is just such an important time for so many animals. But birds in particular, a lot of our bird species, are really vulnerable in the spring. So maybe they're mating and nesting, or they have young but can't really protect themselves. A lot of our birds actually nest on the ground. So not only things like sandhill cranes, which have really large nests out on the preserve, and ducks which nest on the ground.”

It’s not just the nesting birds who are in danger. According to a provision of Summit County code - it is illegal to chase any protected wildlife species. Sand Hill Cranes are federally protected. A dog chasing wildlife can be shot.

Dogs aren’t the only domestic pets posing a threat to wildlife. According to Cone, it’s estimated by the Audubon Society that 2 billion birds a year are killed by domestic cats.

Cone understands that some people who are new to the area may not know the laws. Pet owners need reminders.

“But there are signs to keep your dogs on leash in certain areas, to not have your dogs roam free. But signage only goes so far. So we'd love to see our community kind of stand together, help us out on this. Be respectful in these discussions with other people. For us it’s knowledge about what's, what's out there, and what the impacts could be, whether it's a dog running free and running through open space, where they're nesting birds and other wildlife or whether it is cats that are free to roam that you see maybe killing birds at your bird feeder, or on the preserve and open space maybe share a little bit of that knowledge and what the impacts are.”

For more information about the Swaner Preserve and the wildlife they protect, please visit swanterecocenter.org.