from FNBWA photos folder
Many urban areas have developed dog parks in recent years to give urban dwellers a place to take their pets to run freely and “just be dogs.” The Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area (NBWA) at times looks like a wilderness version of a dog park. Local residents frequently walk their pets along many of the sand roads, and of course the wildlife area provides excellent opportunities for hunters to use dogs on small game, on large game such as bears, and furbearers such as coyotes and fox. While these uses are apparent, they are not the primary uses of the area by dog owners.
Dog training for obedience and hunting is a popular use of NBWA. All dogs must be leashed from April 15 through July 31 to protect breeding wildlife. Starting August 1, the property is open to running dogs off leash. Since the open barrens habitat allows people to see their dogs more easily than the more forested public lands of northern Wisconsin, it has become a highly attractive area for training dogs.
Formal, sanctioned dog trials occur on the property with a permit in late summer and early fall. The dog trialing community has been a great supporter of the NBWA and generally welcomes people who wish to observe the activity and learn about dog trials. If you encounter a dog trial, take the opportunity to follow along and don’t be shy about asking non-active participants questions.
NBWA is closed to the general use of horses to protect the easily eroded soil and prevent the spread of invasive species. The only exception are use during dog trials where the negative impacts are greatly minimized because use is limited to only a few days a year and care is taken to prevent the import of plant seeds on horses’ hooves.