Here are four reasons you should always clean up after your dog on a hiking trail:
1. Not all poop is created equally
Some feces, like cow feces, is the end product of a mostly grass diet. Because of this, it's considered a great all-around fertilizer that's low in nitrogen and won't damage the soil.
Because a dog's diet consists of mostly meat, the makeup of their feces is quite different. This high-protein diet means that a dog's poop is more acidic, and also means that it will contain pathogens and microbes. On top of that, it's high in nitrogen, which is why dog poop leaves brown or yellow spots on a green lawn.
In other words, dog poop isn't a fertilizer. It's actually something that will hurt the environment if left behind.
2. Dog poop can impact water sources
Not only can the presence of dog poop and the nutrients that come with it contribute to excessive growth of algae and weeds, something that makes water murky and stinky, the pathogens in dog poop can also be dangerous. Two illness-causing bacterias that can transfer from dog poop to water that you've heard of include E. coli and salmonella – both of which can make humans really sick.
Help keep these nutrients and pathogens out of the water by picking up your dog's poop.
3. Leave no trace for other hikers
Dog poop is stinky and unsightly, disrupting the natural experience for those that come behind. This can be especially problematic on popular trails. No one wants to be hiking while accompanied by the smell of dog poop wafting through the air.
4. It's against the law to leave poop behind
Not only is leaving dog poop behind bad for the environment and unsightly for others hiking the trail, it's also usually against the law.
According to Outward Hound, Denver deals out a $125 fine for those who get caught in the act of this dastardly deed. Most counties and cities in Colorado have a similar rule in the books.
A pro-tip for my fellow hikers: If you're on a long hike, carrying dog poop can be a bit annoying. Granted, tossing the poop into a backpack can seem to leave a stink that lasts for months. Instead of carrying a poop bag or tossing it in the bag, bring a larger bag that zips and store it in that in your backpack. This way, you've got one bag to toss at the end of a long hike and the smell has been somewhat contained.
Oh, and never leave the poop bag on the side of the trail.