For the last few weeks it has been difficult for hikers not to notice the numerous piles of dog waste on the trails in McDonald Forest in Corvallis, Oregon. Seeing piles of dog poop while you’re walking in a public place is annoying to everyone, especially dog owners. These piles were exceptionally easy to spot though – they had been spray painted bright orange.
Irresponsible dog owners that don’t clean up after their pets give the rest of us a bad name. Whether it is at the dog park, on a hiking trail or at a local playground, it’s not only courteous but hygienic to clean up after your dog leaves a pile of poop behind. Bacteria from dog feces can leach into the ground and pollute nearby water supplies. It can also spread diseases to other canines or humans that may come in contact with it.
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Not to mention, it’s just disgusting. I love dogs as much as anyone, but stepping in a pile of dog poop still ruins my mood. When it’s in my own yard it’s frustrating, but when I step in someone else’s dog’s poop in a public area it is aggravating. I’m always disgusted when I see dog’s going number 2 and then watch their owner slink away without cleaning it up. Unfortunately, this irritating crime is more common in some places than others.
It was certainly common in McDonald Forest until a group of volunteer decided to do something about it. On Saturday, October 10, 2015 about 20 volunteers set out to pick up about 1,000 piles of dog poop that had been previously spray painted with construction-grade orange spray paint to make them stand out. The piles were collected from the Lewisburg Saddle, Calloway Creek, Peavy Arboretum and Oak Creek trails.
The orange poop is actually part of a new public-information campaign being launched by Oregon States University’s College of Forestry and local veterinarians. The campaign is focused on bringing awareness to the amount of waste that could cause ecological problems in the area (and it’s also smelly and unsightly).
Ryan Brown, the recreation and engagement program manager for OSU Research Forests says that the organization has gotten dozens of complaints from people who have been noticing the large amounts of dog waste on the trails, and he says that it has been getting progressively worse over the last couple of years. He says the community is full of dog lovers and many of them use the trails. Although most are courteous and clean up after their dogs, the people who do not need to be made aware of the problem that it is causing.
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Some folks believe that dog poop is natural and can act as a fertilizer, but local vets and professors at the college say the waste has already caused serious ecological issues in the forests and along the trails. Brown says that there are stream ecology studies happening in the waterways along the Oak Creek trail and anything that leaches into the water from the dog waste can have a drastic effect on the ecology. It isn’t natural and it can throw off the health of the streams. It can even cause organisms to grow that are not natural to the area.
In the heat of the summer the smell is another noticeable downside to the waste. Researchers and volunteers are hoping that even if dog owners don’t agree with the ecological ramifications that the stool may have, they will at least clean up after their pet to be courteous to others who use the trails for recreation.