Colorado’s land managers struggle with dog owners who leave bags of dog poop behind |

Colorado’s land managers struggle with dog owners who leave bags of dog poop behind

John Meyer
The Denver Post
Dog Poop sign on Spring Creek Trail Steamboat Springs

Mary Ann Bonnell spends a lot of time studying animal and human behavior as the visitor services manager for Jefferson County Open Space.

Animal behavior can be a lot easier to understand. And few things baffle her more — among all of the weird things in a park system that attracts 7 million people a year — than when people leave bags filled with dog poop along trails for someone else to pick up.

These “poopetrators,” as Bonnell calls them, are expecting all those bags to be picked up magically by the “Poop Fairy” — a mythical creature that has become part of the outdoors lexicon among people who find the abandoned bags disgusting.

“We have people acting outside the norm, and that’s such an interesting question: When did it become OK to leave the bag, either for someone else to pick up, or ‘I’m going to pick it up on my way back.’ Who thinks like that?” Bonnell said. “It’s such a disrespectful decision. Do you really care about this trail or not? Or is it just about you, because you don’t want to carry a stinky bag?”

Ten years ago, Jefferson County Animal Control began a public awareness campaign that included a Facebook page named “There is no Poop Fairy,” which still exists. But it hasn’t changed behaviors. It isn’t a problem unique to Jeffco Open Space; it also happens throughout the Front Range. Carla Zinanti, animal control officer for the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office, said she’s even heard from officials in New York City, Chicago, California and Canada inquiring about the “Poop Fairy” campaign.

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