Dogs to be kept on a leash at nature reserve

Dogs wandering off their leashes in the Rietvlei Nature Reserve has caused concern among bird watchers and visitors at the Nature Reserve.

The City of Cape Town has urged residents who make use of the Table Bay Nature Reserve to keep their dogs on a leash after receiving increasing reports from bird watchers, visitors at Rietvlei wetlands and the Milnerton coastal dunes of dogs running off-leash in these protected areas.

The dogs have been known to chase and sometimes kill rare and endangered birds and antelope such as steenbok and grysbok and they’re found running loose despite the presence of signage which prohibits owners from letting their dogs off the leash.

“Portions of the Table Bay Nature Reserve are designated for dog walking, there are no designated free-running dog parks in the nature reserve. We would like to stress that, besides for these designated dog walking areas, no dogs are allowed in the Rietvlei wetlands and recreational water area.

“The negative effects of free-running dogs in the nature reserve, apart from the killing of birds and animals, also includes the danger and disturbance to people.

“If a dog bites a visitor of the nature reserve, potential criminal charges and civil claims for damages could cause more trouble for dog owners,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe.

Mr Van der Merwe explained that in terms of the City’s Animal By-law of 2010, dogs may not enter into public spaces where they are prohibited by notice.

In designated dog-walking areas, dogs must remain under control and on a leash at all times.

The City’s Law Enforcement officers, have issued numerous fines, ranging from R500 to R2 000, to dog owners who do not adhere to the by-laws in the nature reserve.

Mr Van der Merwe said that Rietvlei is a controlled access area where visitor controllers monitor that no dogs enter into Rietvlei.

However, dogs still manage to find their way into Rietvlei from adjacent residential areas such as Table View and Milnerton Ridge.

As a protected area under the Protected Areas Act, all domestic animals found in this area are deemed to be stray and may be removed.

“It is also important to note that natural predators in the nature reserve, such as caracal, Cape fox and Cape clawless otter, could attack and kill pets or spread diseases such as rabies to domestic animals.

“We urge visitors to the nature reserves to handle their pets and domestic animals responsibly while in public open areas and to report any unaccompanied domestic animals in the Table Bay Nature Reserve to 021 444 0315,” says Mr Van der Merwe.

Contraventions of the Animal By-Law of 2010 can also be reported to Big Bay Law Enforcement on 021 554 8003.