In Île-de-France, the business of dog walkers can damage the forest

Forest of Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine), report

It is a ballet that is already familiar to the users of the forest of Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine). Every day of the week, dog walker vans park in a variety of wooded parking lots. The dog pack walking business is booming. For about thirty euros per outing – the price varies according to the service providers – walkers offer owners, mostly urban and active, to pick up their dogs for them. At their sites, they praise the well-being of the animal, which needs to exercise and interact with other dogs. The forests closest to Paris, especially Meudon or Fausses-Reposes, were particularly affected by the arrival of these many companies.

In the Meudon forest, the situation doesn’t just make people happy. Some users sometimes come up against packs of ten or even fifteen dogs, most of them untied. This is not the case without creating conflicts, which resonate in the town halls of the sector. In Chaville, there is a Facebook group for mutual aid between residents, with 5,000 members. We talk about dogs several times a month », said Hervé Lièvre, first deputy mayor of Chaville, one of the six towns where the national forest is located. In question, encounters with off-leash dogs, who sometimes chase their own animals or scare their cubs. In 2019, the town reconciled itself with neighbors Meudon and Clamart and issued an order limiting the number of dogs to walk simultaneously to four. A stop impossible to implement »lamented Hervé Lièvre, who believed that the police had other missions to perform, and that operations to raise awareness of the country’s guards had not changed the situation.

With numerous ponds, the Meudon forest holds diverse and sensitive biodiversity. ©Si YN/NFB

For several years now, the National Forestry Office (NFB), which is responsible for forest management in Île-de-France, was alerted to an increase in the incident. More and more companiessaid Michel Béal, director of the Île-de-France Ouest territorial agency atNFB. Some, officially, were flooding trucks, but many people were exercising undeclared. » Beyond usage conflicts, the frequent presence of dogs is also a biodiversity problem, even if the phenomenon is difficult to measure.

predatory instinct

The presence of multiple dog feces in the same area, at the forest entrance where they exit the trucks, contributed to the acidification of the soil. And especially pets can disturb wildlife. The dog, even if he lives in an apartment, has an instinct of predation that can lead him to chase an animal, to frighten it and prevent it from nesting.explained Michel Béal. Childbirth periods are more sensitive. »

In addition, from April 15 and until June 30 will begin the season where dogs must be kept on leash outside of forest trails. A measure aimed at protecting the birth of mammals and the breeding of birds. Just by their presence, dogs can stress forest animals and endanger their breeding. A stressed female may leave the breeding site as her nest. The Meudon forest, with its many ponds, is still home to a variety of wildlife – weasels, martens, weasels, squirrels, bats – including many birds and amphibians.

Every day, the van walking company takes dogs to Paris and its inner pastures to take them to the forest. © Sarah Nafti / Reporter

Of course, the forests of Ile -de -France are very busy – between 3 and 5 million visitors a year to the Meudon forest – and dog walkers aren’t the only ones bringing pets there, Cyril Fresse lines up. , owner of Citizen Dog, which, with its eight walkers, is one of the major companies in the sector. We try to do our best, to go through small paths to avoid encounters as much as possible and during breeding, we avoid ponds, where birds nest, while others continue. to get there. »

He regrets it the lack of consultation » with find a setting that suits everyone ». For him, the order limits the number of dogs sign the demise of our activities if it applies ». It’s hard to earn without even having four dogs per outing. We have an economic weight, we create jobs and above all we respond to demand, I even turn down customers because I don’t have a walker available. »

With 15 dogs, we cannot guarantee quality »

In early March, Clamart town hall conducted a ticketing operation for non -compliance with the order limiting the maximum number of dogs, in which the mayor boasted on social media. And for some, it was a cold rain. Charlotte Pédarré launched her business, Chacha’s Pense-Bêtes, before her imprisonment in March 2020, after fifteen years working at SPA. When I did my market research, I had absolutely no knowledge of the existence of this order, despite my research. »he said.

As a professional – he holds a dog trainer certificate – he has also noticed a drift in practices. Personally, I always limit myself to six, seven dogs at most, to ensure their safety and that of others. With fifteen dogs, we can’t guarantee quality and that would hurt us all. »

Charlotte Pédarré limits the number of dogs she can take on a walk at the same time and selects them ” because not all dogs can walk in a pack “. © Sarah Nafti / Reporter

So he favors regulation but remembers that his work is important to some. Behind each dog there is someone, who may be old, disabled, and in need of this service. Walks can improve a dog’s behavior in general because behavioral problems are often associated with a lack of physical activity. » What, in the end, helps limit dropouts. Because, many people who pick up animals during incarceration find themselves deprived when they have to go back to their workplace. I have many requests, proof that there is a need. Everyone should be able to live, we can’t afford to miss this activity, with dogs staying locked up for ten hours a day. But only those that work properly should be saved. »

An improved regulation

And precisely this desire for regulation is growing on the sideNFBplanning to reserve a space dedicated to this activity in the Meudon forest, which will be the first in France. Everything left in the forest is therefore banned, which facilitates the possibility of telling offenders », explains Michel Béal. L ‘NFB also wants to create a certification procedure, with specifications to be respected, for all companies wishing to undertake this activity, and is considering introducing a tax for commercial use of the forest. It’s also a way to limit walkers secret ». L ‘NFB is in consultation with the cities on which the Meudon forest relies and hopes to set up the dedicated space in the spring ».

We have to find the solution, it is urgent ! » Florence de Pampelonne, Meudon’s deputy mayor in charge of sustainable development, who is waiting looking ahead » the regulation ofNFB. Some travel companies are willing to make the effort, but others are not honoring their commitments. And meanwhile, residents are complaining in town hall ! » For the deputy mayor, the construction of a reserve area will make it possible to mobilize the municipal police and green police, this team from the Greater Paris Seine Ouest community in the municipalities is composed of country guards and an equestrian brigade in charge. in 2019 to fight. against inefficiency and raising awareness of environmental protection in green spaces in the area.

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