Connecticut laws/regulations; Other States laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

December 21, 2010





By: Kristen L. Miller, Legislative Analyst II

You asked about (1) Connecticut's state park and campground pet policy, (2) reasons why the state restricts pet access at most state campgrounds, and (3) recent legislation regarding pets at state parks and campgrounds. You also requested a comparison of state park and campground pet policies in the other New England states and New York.


Connecticut allows pets in most state parks and forests but prohibits pets in most state campgrounds. Pets are also prohibited in Sherwood Island and Squantz Pond state parks between April 15 and September 30. Where allowed, pets must be leashed and under their owner's control. Seeing eye dogs or other service animals are generally allowed in all public areas.

Pets are allowed in four of Connecticut's 14 state campgrounds. Pets are banned in the other state campgrounds because of their impact on wildlife (e.g., dogs may frighten desired wild life, such as birds), pet waste, barking late at night, and aggressive pet behavior. In addition, not all campground visitors may want to camp at sites that allow pets, according to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials.

During the 2010 legislative session, DEP officials submitted testimony on SB 125 expressing many of these concerns. The bill's amended version would have required DEP to adopt regulations allowing dogs at campsites in up to 50% of state parks with campsites, limiting the number of dogs allowed at campsites, and specifying rules for restraining or controlling them. The bill passed the Senate, but died on the House calendar.

As Table 1 shows, the other New England states and New York have different state park and campground pet policies. They differ in the number of parks or campgrounds that allow pets, the types of pets allowed, and, where allowed, leash length requirements. Vermont also charges a pet fee for overnight camping.

The state policies are similar in other respects. Each state requires that camping areas remain quiet between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Most require pets to be vaccinated against rabies and owners to prove that they are. Owners must attend to their pets at all times and pick up pet waste. Further, the states generally allow service animals in all public areas.

Table 1: Differences in New York and New England
States Parks and Campground Pet Policies


Number of State Parks & Campgrounds

Number of Camping Areas Allow Pets

Type of Pets Allowed

Maximum Leash Length

Excluded Areas and Fees


132 state parks & forests; 14 camping areas

4: Salt Rock Campground and 3 state forest campgrounds (2 state forest campgrounds have horse camp areas)

Pets and riding animals

7 feet maximum length

Pets not allowed in most state park campgrounds, in buildings, or on beaches; limits on number of pets per site


34 day use parks; 12 campgrounds

Most campgrounds


4 feet maximum length

Pets not allowed on beaches or at Sebago Lake campground; some parks may assign campers with pets to less congested sites


143 state parks; 26 campgrounds

Most campgrounds, but campers with pets may be restricted to certain areas

Dog, cat or “other animals”

10 feet maximum length

Pets not allowed at yurt or cabin sites, Camp Nihan, and Boston Harbor Islands

New Hampshire

75 state park properties

12 but some campgrounds may allow pets only in designated areas

Domestic animal kept for pleasure or comfort


Pets not allowed at state beaches, picnic areas, and historic sites

New York

178 state parks; 68 parks have campsites

Pets allowed in many campgrounds but restrictions vary from camp to camp

“Domestic household pets”

6 feet maximum length (but facilities may have other rules)

Dogs not allowed at DEC day use areas, Lake George Islands public campsites, or Waltonian Group; pets not allowed at Long Island or Palisades camping areas, or cabins in Genesee Region

Rhode Island

25 state parks; 2 state forest areas; 5 state camping facilities

Allowed in all campgrounds, but some may have restricted areas

Domesticated dogs and cats

6 feet maximum length in most areas, 25 feet maximum in “management areas”

Pets generally not allowed at state beach facilities; only 2 pets per campsite


52 state parks; 38 campgrounds

All campgrounds but may have pet-specific loops

“Domesticated or trained animals”

10 feet maximum length

Pets not allowed in most cabins/cottages and day-use areas; $1 per pet, per night fee



Connecticut has 107 state parks, 32 state forests, and 14 state camping areas. Pets are allowed in most state parks and forests, but prohibited from most camping areas, buildings, and swimming areas. According to DEP's 2010 state park camping brochure, pets are allowed at the three state forest campgrounds (one pet per site) and Salt Rock Campground (two pets per site). Two of the state forest campgrounds are also horse camp areas. Pets are not allowed at Sherwood Island and Squantz Pond State Parks between April 15 and September 30 (Conn. Agencies Regs. 23-4-1(f)).

Where and when allowed, pets must be on a leash no longer than seven feet and not left unattended. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, and DEP officials may require owners to show evidence of vaccination. Trained service animals are allowed in all areas not closed to

the public when accompanying the person needing assistance (Conn. Agencies Regs. 23-4-1(f)). The regulations are available at http://www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/regulations/23/23-4-1through5.pdf, and DEP General Camping Information is available at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325036&depNav_GID=1621&depNav=.

Concerns About Dogs in Campgrounds

Although there are many campers that would like to bring pets to state campgrounds, many others may not want to camp near campsites with pets, especially at campgrounds with campsites close to one another, Tom Tyler, Director of State Parks and Public Outreach, stated.

During the 2010 session, DEP's testimony on SB 125, AAC Dogs at State Campgrounds, addressed several other concerns about dogs in state campgrounds. The original bill required DEP to allow dogs in all state campgrounds. DEP's concerns included disposing pet waste, the impact on wildlife, barking late at night, and potential aggressive behavior towards other dogs and campers.

sSB 125

Among other things, sSB 125, as amended, would have required DEP to adopt regulations allowing dogs at campsites in up to 50% of state parks with campsites. It would have required the regulations to include (1) a limit on the number of dogs per campsite, and (2) rules on restraint or control to prevent property destruction (earlier versions of the bill would have allowed dogs at all state campsites and directed DEP regulations to include proof of vaccinations). The bill passed the Senate, but died on the House calendar.



Maine maintains 34 state day use parks, 15 historic sites, and 12 state campgrounds. Pets are allowed at most state campgrounds, but not in the Sebago Lake State Park campground or on beaches. In campgrounds where pets are allowed, pet owners may be assigned to campsites in less congested areas, and pets must also be on a leash no greater than four feet in length. The Bureau of Parks and Lands' rules for state parks and historic sites (05-059 CMR Chapter 1) are available at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/04/chaps04.htm.


Pets are allowed in most of Massachusetts' 143 state parks and 26 state campgrounds. However, pets are not allowed at cabin or yurt camping sites nor at Camp Nihan and Boston Harbor Islands. Where allowed, pets must be on leashes no longer than 10 feet. The Massachusetts forests and parks rules (304 CMR 12.00 et seq.) are available at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/legal/downloads/3041200.pdf and the State Park Campground Guidelines is available at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/recreate/campInfo/camprules.htm.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire's pet rules apply to state parks, campgrounds, and historic sites. New Hampshire has 75 state park properties (including historic sites and 19 state camping facilities). Twelve of the parks with camping facilities allow pets, but some limit pet access to designated areas. Pets are prohibited from historic sites, state beaches, and picnic areas. Where allowed, pets must be leashed and, if a pet becomes objectionable to a park visitor, the pet owner must remove the pet upon a park attendant's request. State camping policies are available at http://www.nhstateparks.org/experience/camping/camping-policies.aspx and the state park rules (N.H. Code R. Res 7300 et seq.) are available at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/state_agencies/res7300.html. A list of state parks, including whether or not pets are allowed, is available at http://www.nhstateparks.org/uploads/pdf/pets.pdf.

New York

There are 178 state parks in New York, of which 68 have campsites. Domestic household pets are allowed at many state campsites, according to the New York Camping Guide, but not at Long Island or Palisades camping areas or in Genesee Region cabins. Further, dogs are specifically not allowed at the Lake George Islands public campgrounds, the Waltonian Group out of Roger's Rock, or at Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) day use areas. At DEC campgrounds, pets are not allowed on beaches, in picnic areas, or in buildings.

The guide advises campers to contact campgrounds about specific pet requirements and rules because they vary between campgrounds. For example, it is generally required that dogs be on leashes no longer than six feet, but certain facilities may have specific leash or cage laws. The New York Camping Guide is available at http://www.nysparks.com/camping/documents/NYCampingGuide.pdf, DEC regulations for use of state land (6 NYCRR 190.0 et seq.) are available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4081.html, and a summary of state camping policies is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7817.html.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has 25 state parks, two state forest management areas, and five state camping facilities. It allows dogs and cats at any state campground but bans them at state bathing beaches. It also bans them in the East Beach/Ninigret Conservation Area and the Burlingame picnic area from April 1 to September 30. Further, the state allows no more than two pets per campsite and requires all pets to be on a leash no longer than six feet. Pets must be readily identifiable. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management pet policy is available at http://www.riparks.com/DEM%20Pet%20Policy.htm and the Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations is (CRIR 12-080-052) available at http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/fishwild/parkmgmt.pdf.


Vermont has 52 state parks and 38 campgrounds. Pets (domesticated or trained animals) are allowed at all state campgrounds, but with restrictions. Pets must be safely confined or on leashes not exceeding 10 feet at all times, and owners must keep barking to a minimum. There is also a $1.00 per pet, per night fee, and some campgrounds have pet-specific areas. Pets are not allowed at day use and picnic areas (except at Silver Lake and Bradbury State Parks), beaches or pools (except at Silver Lake and Bradbury Beaches, Lake Carmi Loop A Camper's Beach, and Lake St. Catherine Campers' Beach), parking lots, playgrounds, and in cabins or cottages (except Cabin A at Lake Carmi State Park). The Vermont state park visitor Rules and Regulations is (CVR 12-020-009) available at http://www.vtstateparks.com/pdfs/rule_current.pdf.