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Off-leash dog activity at Casper’s Morad Park may be causing wetlands to become dead zone

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council is set to discuss a request from the Murie Audubon Society during its Tuesday, August 24 work session to support an effort to help restore lost habitat for birds and amphibians in and around Morad Park.

Morad Park is an off-leash dog area that is adjacent to property owned by the Murie Audubon Society and property owned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, according to a memo from city staff in the council’s work packet. A wetland complex that once was home to a number of bird, amphibian and other species has been significantly impacted by dog activity.

While the Murie Audubon property is not an unleashed dog area, it is not fenced off from Morad Park and “the wetland complex has become a bird and amphibian dead zone for a once active and spectacular area” due to the dog activity, according to the memo.

The Murie Audubon Society is requesting that the City of Casper allow the entire wetland complex that covers portions of Morad Park, Wyoming Game and Fish and Murie Audubon Society property to be fenced off.

The Murie Audubon Society would cover all costs of fencing materials. The memo adds that an Eagle Scout candidate has offered to lead the projects and recruit volunteers to install the fences in collaboration with the Murie Audubon Society and the Platte River Revival Committee.

The city would not be expected to contribute a cash outlay for materials or installation of the fencing, but city staff time would be needed to help with coordination of the project.

The memo notes that the wetland complex was once home the the following marsh bird species, among others:

  • Virginia rail
  • Sora
  • Marsh wren
  • Common yellowthroat
  • Wood duck
  • Gadwell
  • Black-crowned night heron

The wetland complex also offers access for deer and pronghorn to the North Platte River year round. Dogs in the area have been frequently disturbing birds, ungulates and amphibians in the area, according to the memo.

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