Dog News: Pooches may be BANNED from parks due to environmental damage from poop and urine | Science | News
Researchers suggest that dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets in parks are likely harming the environment and wildlife. According to a new study, dog feces and urine contain significant amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. When left in nature preserves, these excess chemicals can lead to over-fertilization of the soil.
This can negatively impact a variety of plant and animal life and species interactions.
Scientists have called for dogs to be banned from parks, or canines to be leashed in sensitive areas.
They also suggested “nearby off-leash dog parks” and highlighted the need for dog owners to pick up their pets.
They said: “Dogs bring significant amounts of nutrients to ecosystems, but this disruption and its associated effects on biodiversity have often been overlooked until now.”
The study, published in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence, said: “Dogs appear to be a sizable, substantial, and underappreciated source of nutrients in peri-urban ecosystems.”
He continued: “It is clear that the levels of dog fertilization estimated here have the potential to exert negative effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of species-rich vegetation that are often pursued in forest management and of nature.
“Higher nutrient levels lead to increased plant growth, primarily by a limited number of nutrient-demanding species that will overwhelm specialists, particularly by eliminating available light causing plant species loss.”
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For this study, scientists counted 1,629 dogs in peri-urban forests and nature reserves near Ghent in Belgium for 18 months.
They found that the dogs left behind an estimated annual average of 11 kg of nitrogen and 5 kg of phosphorus per hectare, which they called “substantial”.
The researchers said: “Based on our results, we suggest that land managers, particularly in ecosystems with species adapted to nutrient-poor soils, take measures to stimulate visitors to carry away solid faecal waste. (the most important source of phosphorus) with emphasis on fertilization. effect of their dogs in addition to other more widely known negative impacts, for example on wildlife.
They also suggested that local governments and park officials “more strictly enforce leash use, establish more off-leash dog parks, and more often consider complete dog bans in oligotrophic ecosystems.”
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Scientists have warned that leaving dog feces exposed could lead to the spread of disease.
They continued: “Furthermore, disposal of dog feces prevents infection of grazing animals with zoonotic diseases, such as Neospora caninum.
“Dogs are the definitive hosts of this obligate intracellular parasite, but many other animal species can be infected.
“In wild ruminants like roe deer, but especially domestic grazers like cattle and sheep, Neospora infection is a leading cause of abortion.”
They also said the common ‘stick and flick’ strategy, used by the Forestry Commission in Britain to reduce the nuisance of trampling on dog excrement, ‘should be avoided’.