LINN — People are not picking up after their dogs in the nature park at the corner of South Lake Shore and Maple Ridge drives, and the town’s Public Parks Committee wants that to change.
Park consultant Linda Yunker issued a statement last week that dog waste is an environmental pollutant. Despite dog waste bags and receptacles being available, she said dog waste is still being found along the park’s nature trails, or it’s being collected in bags that were discarded in the prairie.
“The decay of your pet’s waste creates nutrients for weeds and algae to grow in your waterways,” Yunker stated. “As these organisms thrive, they overtake the water and limit the amount of light that can penetrate the water’s surface. As a result, oxygen levels in the water decrease and fish are asphyxiated. It is estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria that is known to cause intestinal illness and kidney disorders in humans.”
The 160-acre Town of Linn Community Nature Park is owned and maintained by the town, and held in a conservation easement with the Geneva Lake Conservancy. The land was donated to the town, which has been working to restore it and create a bird sanctuary “for some of Wisconsin’s threatened and endangered species” which make the park their home, Yunker said.
In 2010, two bridges were installed with a stewardship grant from the state Department of Natural Resources. At that time, trails in the center of the park had been moved. Now, they loop around the park in order to provide protection and privacy for birds. Yunker stated other information about dog waste, including:
n That, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet waste can contribute to diseases animals pass on to humans, called zoonosis. “When infected dog poop is deposited on your lawn, the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites can linger in the soil for years,” she said, adding that anyone who comes into contact with that soil runs the risk of infection.
n Cryptosporidium, Giardia Salmonella, hookworms, ringworms and tape worms are other parasites found in pet waste. Infections from these parasites can cause fever, muscle aches, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea in humans.
Yunker asked that people dispose of their pets’ waste properly when walking their dogs in the park.