West Ada

To keep bacteria at bay, dogs are now banned from this Treasure Valley swimming spot

In an attempt to improve water quality, Idaho officials have instated a “no pets allowed” rule at a Treasure Valley pond, according to an Idaho State Parks and Recreation news release.

The agency has banned pets from swimming in the lake at Eagle Island State Park, citing concerns over potentially harmful bacteria that animals — particularly dogs — can introduce to the water.

Pet feces is a major cause of harmful bacteria in recreational waterways introduced through direct contact with the water or spread from fur or paws,” the release said.

In the past, Eagle Island’s waterways have been closed due to blue-green algae blooms, which can be toxic to pets and humans. Though the Ada County swimming spot hasn’t had E. coli scares in recent years, several other popular Boise ponds have — prompting Boise Parks and Recreation to put in similar restrictions for dogs.

Dogs are no longer allowed to swim at Quinn’s Pond, Esther Simplot Park or Veterans Memorial Pond after a string of closures due to high bacteria levels.

“The health and safety of our citizens is our top priority,” said Doug Holloway, Boise Parks and Recreation Director, in the news release. “Our shared ‘no pets in the water policy’ helps to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and keep our ponds open for recreational use.”

Eagle Island manager Gary Shelley also emphasized the importance of protecting human swimmers.

“Open bodies of water are popular places for people to beat the Idaho heat in the summer,” Shelley said in the news release. “We’re doing all that we can to keep local swimming areas safe and accessible to the public.”

Looking for a place to let Spot swim? The agency suggested dog owners use the Boise River, pet-friendly trails and dog parks to let their pups doggie paddle. (Boise Parks and Rec plans to unveil “Dog Island,” a dog park with attached pond, at Ann Morrison Park this summer.)

Officials said the water at Eagle Island’s lake and Boise pond systems are tested weekly. They asked swimmers to use swim diapers for small children, keep pets on a leash, avoid swimming when ill, pick up pet waste, and refrain from feeding ducks and geese in order to improve water quality.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.