Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: it also can cause water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. For these reasons, Ice Age Trail users should plan to pack out all dog waste generated by their pet while hiking.
DO: Pick up all of your pet’s waste!
Poop on the Trail Affects Hikers’ Experiences
Dog waste can negatively affect visitors’ experience in a natural area. Remember to ‘Leave No Trace‘ and carry your dog waste bags with you, even if you are hiking out and back on a particular segment. The hikers sharing the Ice Age Trail with you do not want to encounter what looks like litter (and irresponsible dog owners).
Poop Can Impact Volunteer Work
Volunteers have noted that leaving dog poop and dog poop bags on the Trailway makes it difficult to maintain the Trail. They do not want to step on or mow over a bag of poop while they are clearing Trail corridor.
Dog Poop Affects Water Quality
Pet waste doesn’t just decompose. It adds harmful bacteria and nutrients to local waters when it’s not disposed of properly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, animal waste contains two main types of pollutants that harm local waters: nutrients and pathogens.
Even if the waste is off Trail and not visible, large quantities of dog waste travel with snowmelt and rainwater to nearby water bodies. When this waste ends up in water bodies, it releases phosphorous and nitrogen, which cause excessive growth of algae and weeds.
This nutrient pollution disrupts fragile freshwater ecosystems and reduces biodiversity in sensitive environments.
Dog Waste Can Cause Negative Health Effects
Dog waste both pollutes water and transmits harmful parasites and diseases to people. Humans can catch parasites and diseases such as hookworms, roundworms and salmonella from dog waste.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that waste produced by just 100 dogs can contain enough bacteria to temporarily close a beach to swimming and fishing.
DON’T: Leave your dog waste bags along the Trail!
The rising number of Ice Age Trail users requires a higher level of personal responsibility and accountability to reduce the cumulative impacts of off-leash dogs and dog waste on the Trail. Learn more about hiking with your pet by visiting our page Dogs on the Trail: Guidelines and Regulations.
Thank you for helping preserve the beauty and integrity of the Ice Age Trail and our natural environment!