Park Island dog ban causes a stir

A sign at Park Island.

The City has had only one official complaint about its ban on dog walking on Park Island, but Marina da Gama residents have vented on social media, calling it punitive.

The immediate ban took effect on Monday after an off-leash dog killed a Grysbok lamb on the island, which is part of the Zandvlei Nature Reserve.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said management authorities could limit the public’s use of natural spaces if it threatened fauna and ecosystems.

Members of the Marina Da Gama Facebook page complained that all dog owners were being punished for the actions of one irresponsible dog owner.

Ms Niewoudt said the ban was not a punishment. It had been necessary because some dog walkers ignored the on-leash rule.

“The ban on dogs in Park Island is intended to allow the fauna some respite to recover and resume their natural habits. We are hopeful that once the ban is lifted, dog-walkers will adhere to the rules of the Island. We have to take action when visitors to our nature reserves do not abide by the rules and respect the rights of other visitors.

“We are taking action against the individual responsible, but this is still in the investigation phase so we cannot divulge more information as yet. Any visitor disobeying the Park Island ban or walking their dog off-leash on Wildwood Island will be issued with spot fines in accordance with the City’s by-laws.”

The death of the Grysbok lamb was deeply regrettable and such incidents should be avoided in future, she said.

The lamb’s carcass was sent to the state vet for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.

Marina da Gama resident Mike Ryder said he was not opposed to the dog ban, but was surprised to hear it had not been extended to to Wildwood Island.

Wildwood Island should be included in the ban to prevent what he termed an invasion of “off lead” dog walkers and dog pooers there, he said.

“Wildwood Island is already over-utilised, and many new paths have been smashed through the flora. I have seen otters, grysbok, tortoises, snakes and other fauna whilst monitoring the nets and clearing the reed beds.

“They all need protecting. Not to mention the increased birdlife that now frequents this revitalised area of the reserve,” he said.

Ms Niewoudt said the City was aware of the increased impact on Wildwood Island.

“Last week we received a tip-off that someone was running four dogs off-leash at the island, and we sent out law enforcement and our rangers to investigate. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach the island in time.

“We will, however, be conducting patrols and will fine those who are contravening the rules.

“We were initially focusing patrols on Park Island, and will now redirect our resources to Wildwood Island.”

Spot fines can be up to R1000 for each dog off-leash.