Locals not allowed on research track

‘No trespassing,’ ‘No pets allowed’ signs are posted around facility



A sign reads “Restricted Area, Authorized Personal Only, DO NOT ENTER” on a fence Wednesday outside of the Hitchcock Research Track.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Pullman residents continue to trespass on the WSU Hitchcock Research Track, despite off-limit signs.

Charlie Powell, senior public information officer for the College of Veterinary Medicine, said the research track is the only full-size horse racing track on a university campus in the nation.

“It’s used to conduct equine metabolic research and physiological research with horses,” he said. “It’s used for racing horses around the tracks.”

Steve Hansen, WSU assistant chief of police, said the research track has restricted access, meaning only authorized personnel are allowed on the grounds.

Powell said the research track is closed off to the public for safety reasons. The presence of people and dogs can upset the horses and other animals kept on the facility.

“These are retired racehorses that are here,” he said. “Those animals don’t do well when other people treat this track like it’s their private dog park or their jogging trail.”

Powell said it is also common for dog owners to drive around the outside of the track and have their dogs running alongside the car.

Dog owners should keep their pets away from the track, Powell said.

“We had a goat that was severely injured last year, because dogs were left running on the infield,” he said. “They chewed a [goat’s] neck and face up.”

Powell said the goat went through extensive rehabilitation during its recovery from the wounds.

“These are not backyard companion livestock,” he said.

Hansen said WSU police should be contacted if anyone witnesses trespassing on the research track. He said individuals can receive official warnings or be written a citation for trespassing.

“Worst case scenario, something significant would have to happen, and they could be arrested and taken to jail for it,” he said.

Powell said there are signs posted around the research track saying, “No Trespassing” and “No Pets Allowed.” He said there is also a fence surrounding some of the track.

He said recent incidents of trespassing have led to discussions on completing the fence so it circles around the entire research track.

“This is not a place where people can just go. It’s not a petting zoo,” he said. “It’s actually a research facility, and the welfare of the animals is vitally important.”