‘Deja Poo’ | AspenTimes.com

‘Deja Poo’

Lauren Glendenning
Henry, one of many dogs on the Smuggler trail, stops to take a bathroom break. His owner brought plenty of bags to clean up his mess, unlike those who didn't, which are represented by pink flags alongside the trail.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

A month after volunteers cleaned up roughly 100 pounds of dog poop on Smuggler Mountain, rangers have flagged another 50 or so piles in the same problematic section of the trail.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails senior ranger John Armstrong said he’s disappointed after flagging so many poop piles again Thursday, just a month after flagging more than 100 piles and kicking off an awareness campaign.

He tried to have a sense of humor about it, referring to the day as “deja poo,” but he’s not laughing about the lack of effort dog owners are putting forth.

“I’d say that’s a pretty poor report card,” he said. “Where do we go from here? The community can’t be proud of that.”

Armstrong isn’t thrilled about potential next steps, which could mean anything from reinstituting the leash law on the first 1/2-mile of the trail — where most of the dog feces is left — or perhaps something more extreme. Some communities in California are taking DNA samples from dogs when they’re registered. If poop piles are left behind, officials link the DNA to the dog owner to enforce punishment.

“We could talk about doing that here,” Armstrong said. “We could look at higher fines, or cameras.”

While the volunteer effort organized by The Aspen Times about a month ago was a great first step, Armstrong said he doesn’t want the community to think volunteers will continue to clean up after irresponsible dog owners.

A seasonal cleanup in the spring and fall might be a good idea, he said, but the real citizen volunteer effort should come from the dog owners. If they’d just pick up after their pets, cleanup efforts won’t be necessary, he said.