In the canton of Bern, 76 wild animals were killed by roaming dogs in 2019. Nevertheless, there is no intention to introduce a general lead requirement in the Saanenland, not even during the breeding period, when wild animals are rearing their young.
In the canton of Bern, 76 wild animals were killed by roaming dogs in 2019. Nevertheless, there is no intention to introduce a general lead requirement in the Saanenland, not even during the breeding period, when wild animals are rearing their young. The authorities rely on the common sense and personal responsability of dog owners.
A ccording to the Economic, Energy and Environmental Directorate of the canton of Bern, there are currently almost half a million dogs living in Switzerland. 68,000 of them live in the canton of Bern and around 740 dogs were registered in 2019 in the three municipalities of the Saanenland. Depending on how they are kept, dogs have a serious impact on their environment. Wild animals are particularly sensitive to disturbances during the breeding period from April to August.
CHF 20,000 fines
“The subject of roaming dogs in spring is indeed a problem that we face every year,” says Niklaus Blatter, hunting inspector of the canton of Bern. He points out that dog owners could contribute a great deal to the solution. Common sense is particularly relevant in the canton of Bern, where regulations are rather lax compared to other cantons.
According to Blatter, 76 wild animals were killed by dogs in the canton in 2019, whereby the number of unreported cases is likely to be considerably higher. Many are not aware that poaching dogs may be shot by gamekeepers and fallible dog owners can be punished with a fine of up to CHF 20,000 under the Federal Law on Hunting and the Protection of Wild Mammals and Birds (JSG).
Lead compulsory in protected areas
For dog owners the legislation may be somewhat confusing. The cantonal dog law forms the legal basis for the safe and responsible handling of dogs. However, compulsory leashing of dogs in regional game reserves can also be made by the respective municipality and signposted accordingly. In cantonal nature reserves and in certain zones in game reserves, a lead is compulsory.
There is no general obligation to keep dogs on a lead in the Saanenland and no pressure to introduce this. According to Thomas Frei, municipal councillor responsible for security issues in the municipality of Saanen, the canton’s regulations are being observed. He emphasises that the majority of dog owners comply with the regulations and adds: “A general obligation would not get a majority”.
In Gsteig, too, the cantonal law on dogs is adhered to in this respect. Finance director Karl Graa: “The municipality of Gsteig has not defined any additional places where leashes are mandatory.” Hansueli Perreten, municipal administrator of Lauenen, says that no one in the municipality has expressed a desire for a general lead requirement.
Based on AvS/Kerem S. Maurer
Lead and muzzle regulation
1. Owners of a dog must keep it on a lead in the following cases:
a in the absence of other effective means of control
b on school facilities, public playgrounds and sports fields
c on public transport, at railway stations and bus stops
d when entering pastures with farm animals
e upon order in individual cases.
2. The municipal authorities shall monitor compliance with the obligation to keep dogs on a lead in accordance with paragraph 1 and may designate other places where dogs must be kept on a lead.
3. They may grant exemptions from the lead requirement laid down in paragraphs 1 and 2 in individual cases.
4. Obligations to leash dogs in accordance with the hunting and nature conservation legislation may apply.
5. Dogs must wear a muzzle when:
a they are snappish,
b it has been ordered in an individual case.
Source: Cantonal regulation. Translation is not binding.