Brown Town

Brown Town

Have you been on your favorite hikes recently – Horse Gulch, Dalla Mountain, Animas City Mountain – and noticed piles of dog poop marked with pink flags and wondered … huh?

Well, the City of Durango recently launched its “Scoop the Poop” campaign in response to the increasing problem of dog owners leaving their dogs’ poop on trails, making it gross and awful for everyone.

Amy Schwarzbach, the city’s natural lands manager, said signs have also been posted to inform people why it’s important to pack out your dog’s waste. Also, the pink flags help highlight just how bad the problem is. “Snow makes it obvious where dog waste is left behind, and then it gets gnarly in the spring,” she said.

The City of Durango recently did some math to estimate that 38% of Durango homes have at least one dog, or about 4,779 dogs in city limits. Take into account a dog on average poops about 12 ounces a day, that’s 274 pounds per year.

Dog waste left on trails has detrimental impacts on the environment and wildlife, Schwarzbach said. Now, it’s look-in-the-mirror time: a lot of dog owners do not pack out their dogs’ waste, which can be carried into rivers, causing algae blooms and deoxygenated water that kills fish. And, it’s gross for those who like to swim, boat and fish. Parasites in dog poop – including salmonella, giardia, parvovirus and distemper – can spread to other dogs and wildlife, even humans.

Schwarzbach said the increasing amount of dog waste has become one of the major complaints from trail users. “It’s ridiculous we have to use taxpayer dollars to clean up dog poop,” she said. “And it bums me out to have people call us and say their experience on city open space was disgusting.”

The City hopes the campaign will help encourage people to pick up their dogs’ waste. “We’re not trying to be bullies; there’s an environmental impact when dog feces is left,” Schwarzbach said.

And if we all claim to be environmentalists and love the outdoors, who can argue with that, right?

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