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Why Can't I Bring Pets to a Nature Preserve?

people birding

kids in nature preserve

Ohio’s 136 state nature preserves are unique and protected because they contain some of Ohio’s rarest and most delicate natural resources. While people can walk on trails and boardwalks at most preserves, preserve managers always strive for a balance at the site so the ecological integrity of each preserve is maintained. Pets in state nature preserves can introduce disease; spread invasive species; distract and disturb wildlife; and interfere with scientific research conducted in the preserves. Leaving pets at home when visiting state nature preserves helps protect these delicate ecosystems.

researchers in nature preserve

Since 1970, pets have been prohibited in Ohio’s state nature preserves. This prohibition has contributed to Ohio’s preserves being prized by birders, naturalists and nature photographers who can enjoy watching a warbler through binoculars or kneeling to see a tiny state threatened plant growing along a path without being concerned about pets disturbing the area. Because of the rarity and delicate balance of these special ecosystems, visitors who bring pets into a state nature preserve are subject to citations and fines. Service animals are permitted in the preserves, and several sites are accessible to Ohioans with disabilities. To learn more, visit our accessible site page.

Leashed pets are permitted on the trails in Ohio’s state parks. To learn more about these areas, visit