Maine man sues for more off-leash time for dogs in park

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Portland man is challenging new rules that do not allow dogs to be off leash in a city park from April to the end of July.

Dog owner Marc Lesperance asked a judge to bar the rules approved by the city council in October from coming into effect, the Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday.

The rules limiting dog off-leash hours in Baxter Woods are meant to protect migratory birds, the newspaper reported. Dogs are not allowed off-leash from April 1 to July 31. Other times of year, dogs may be off leash in Baxter Woods from 5-9 a.m. and from 3-10 p.m.

The 32.5-acre woods were given to the city in 1946 by former Maine Gov. Percival Baxter. The deed executing the transfer specifies the park “shall forever be kept in its natural wild state and as a sanctuary for wild birds.”

Citing the former governor’s other writings, Lesperance argues in his motion, “If Gov. Baxter were alive, I believe he would support my request for the freedom to walk with my dog off leash in Baxter Woods on a daily basis throughout the year.”

“The city’s position has not changed,” Portland spokesperson Jessica Grondin said in an email to the newspaper, noting that questions about the leash restrictions being consistent with the terms of park’s trust had already been discussed at public hearings in advance of the new rules.

They city has not yet filed a response to Lesperance’s motions.

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