Recently, residents in the Anarchist community have expressed concerns about dog feces being left on subdivision roads and in other areas where people, bikes and vehicles can tread through it.
We can probably all agree that inadvertently tracking through a freshly laid pile of dog poop can really ruin a relaxing stroll or bike ride in the neighbourhood or on backcountry trails.
While most dog owners know that part of being a good neighbour means cleaning up after our fur-babies, sometimes folks might think that because we live in a rural area, it’s ok to leave dog poop where it falls.
Did you know that all animal poop is not equal when it comes to the environment? The poop left behind by our local wildlife (bears, coyotes, deer, moose, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, birds) is very beneficial to the environment because when wild animals ‘do a number two’, they are returning important nutrients to the soil for use by plants, insects, and even other wild animals.
Dog poop, on the other hand, is very different because our dogs typically eat food that is nutrient-dense and commercially processed. When our dogs poop, especially when it’s left to accumulate or there are lots of dogs making lots of poop in an area, they leave behind waste with high quantities of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous that can cause imbalances in ecosystem function and contaminate surface water sources like ponds and creeks. Weeds like knapweed, thistle and mullein thrive in soil with high nitrogen and phosphorus, giving them an advantage over native plant species. Dog poop also contains bacteria and possibly parasites that, if ingested by a wild animal like a bear or coyote, can negatively affect their health. This is because the internal organs of predators and other wild animals aren’t adapted to the critters found in domestic dogs and their poop. Dog poop is also a transmission source for spreading bacteria, parasites or disease to other dogs that happen to sniff, lick or (don’t barf) eat it. In turn, our dogs can transmit these pests to their humans with something as innocent as a sloppy kiss.
And, because dog poop contains lots of undigested nutrients, its also considered an attractant for bears and coyotes. Not cleaning up dog poop in our yards for extended periods of time is like leaving out a smelly garbage can or greasy BBQ.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) has a bylaw that requires owners to clean up after their dogs on public land (i.e., provincial Crown land) and private property other than that owned by the dog owner (See Section 8.0 of Bylaw No. 2671, 2017, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Dog Control Regulatory Bylaw.
Let’s all do our part to be respectful to our neighbours when it comes to dog poop.
- Carry dog poop bags on your walks.
- PLEASE DO NOT litter and throw used poop bags in the ditch or the bush. Take them home and dispose of them in the garbage.
- If you don’t have a bag and your dog poops in the middle of the road or a back-country trail, kick it into the ditch or the trees so someone doesn’t come along a step in it or drive through it.
Interested in a wildlife or environment-related topic linked to life on Anarchist Mountain that you think others in the community would want to learn about in our Who’s Who in the Wild series? Contact the Wildlife Safety Program at email@example.com
Written by Selena Cole, AMFRS Wildlife Safety Program Lead who is also an environmental scientist.