Freo unleashes dog compromise

DOG walkers may soon have to keep their furry friends on a leash in Samson Park bushland, under a compromise council policy.

The park is a Bush Forever site protected under state planning policies, and late last year Fremantle proposed to ban dogs from the bush in an attempt to preserve one of the region’s last remnants of jarrah, marri and tuart woodland.

But the move didn’t go down well with dog walkers and the city ditched the idea.

Now it’s proposing a halfway house with dogs on leash in the bushland.

Hilton councillor Sam Wainwright says the proposal is a good compromise and man’s best friend can still enjoy some off-leash time in the park’s central grassy areas.

Dingoes

“Before European settlement the number of people and dingos passing through what is now Samson Park would have been much less than the heavy visitation it now gets,” he says.

“Inevitably that means managing where people and dogs can go, just as we do in national parks.

“The only other way of guaranteeing dogs keep to the tracks would be to line each side of every track with an impermeable chicken wire-style fence, but this presents problems for the movement of wildlife.”

• Ian with his pooch Rosie, and Tanya and Mia with their dog Ollie at Samson Park. They reckon asking dog owners to put their furry pals on a lead is “stupid” and people won’t do it anyway. Photos by Molly Schmidt

The council’s acting parks manager Tim Marks says in most Bush Forever sites like Wireless Hill and Manning Park, dogs are only allowed in the bush if they’re leashed.

“Off-track trampling and disturbance can have a big impact on the condition of the bush at Samson Park, but we recognise a lot of people enjoy walking through the bush with their dogs,” Mr Marks says.

“We think the proposal strikes a reasonable balance.”

Cr Jeff McDonald says he leashes his dogs when he walks them in the bush because it’s safer for the dogs and the flora, “but I’m not sure that dogs being off-lead is the only reason paths are being widened or flora is reduced,” he told the Herald.

“To address the community’s concerns I would also like to see the city ensure the facilities within the park are more regularly upgraded and maintained, that signage is improved, a water fountain that provides water for people and dogs is installed, and that the use of glyphosates are discontinued in Samson Park.”

Locals have vented their anger on the Friends of Samson Park Facebook page, with Dave Trimble posting he’s walked dogs at Samson Park since 1981 and hasn’t seen any degradation of the bush.

A post by Kellie De Groot Ratcliff argued that improved management of the park would do more to improve the condition of the flora.

The city will also plant new seedlings, formalise some of the trails through the bush and fence areas to reduce off-track walking.

You can let council know what you think about the proposal at the My Say Freo website, until September 24.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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