Yes, yes they do. Do you pick up after your dog? You should. Here is why and how.
One of my many hats is a Water Quality Specialist – the streams and lakes kind of water. I help keep the world’s waters clean. This makes me very passionate about poo, or more specifically, what you do with it. I am not afraid to speak my mind about but either. It makes me cringe when I see a pile of dog poo left on the trail or nicely placed in little baggies that have clearly been out in the elements for a while just sitting there.
Dog poo contains pathogens and can contaminate our water supplies. Before you start your argument yes, bears and elk and stuff poo in the woods but not by the hundreds that some trails see in doggie traffic a day. No, it does not break down and become harmless on its own. When it “disappears” it is because it has broken down into millions of tiny poo particles and washed into our streams. You say have other reasons why you leave it on the ground? Ask me and I can probably tell you why it is not good for the environment.
The best thing you can do is pack it out. Ok, I know, what if you just started out on the trail and you don’t want to have to pack it up to the top and back down. There are three things you can do about that.
1) Make your dog poo before you even start up the trail to lessen the chances of it happening along the hike. Dispose of it in the trash can at the trailhead.
2) Pick it up and carry it with you on the hike. You can cut down on the yuckiness by bringing a freezer Ziplock bag and sealing the poo bag inside that. You can strap that bag to the outside of your pack if you have one or just carry it – but at least it won’t smell.
3) If you absolutely must, you can pick up the poo and then stash the poo bag on the side of the trail IF you will remember to pick up on the way back down.
That is a big IF. Don’t forget. That is worse than not picking it up in the first place. Now not only have you left the poo but you have left plastic too and that doesn’t break down. I don’t care what you have to do to remember to pick it up. Tell your friend to remind you, set a cell phone alarm, sing poo songs the whole time so you don’t forget.
I know, it can be hard to remember exactly where on the trail you left it. Even if you remember where you left it, the black or brown bags can blend in with the vegetation. There are two things you can do so you can be sure to see it.
You can switch to using brightly-colored poo bags. It can be hard to find colored biodegradable (that biodegradable thing – a whole other issue I will save for another rant) bags so there is another option. You can carry some flagging with you. You can pick up fluorescent flagging at any hardware store. When you leave a bag on the side of the trail, tie a small piece of flagging to it.
I don’t know how or why people leave their bags on the side of the trail but I see it all the time. I admit that every time I see a bag on the side of the trail all alone I assume it has been forgotten. However, I do realize that I might be unfairly raking the poo bag owner over my mental coals. They could be on the way back down the trail and intending to pick up their poo bag (I doubt this is usually the case though because I didn’t see another soul on the trail).
Yeah, I know, it is stinky and sometimes you have to carry it for a while before you can throw it away. Well, I think that is just tough! It’s part of the responsibility of being a dog owner. So pick it up, pack it out and throw it in the trash.
Do you pick up your poo?