There’s something in the air on Aspen’s Smuggler Mountain.
It’s dog poop. The smell of dog poop.
People like to bring their dogs to Smuggler and their dogs like to poop, which is fine. Poop happens. But what’s not happening is the scooping of said-poop.
Here are the details from the Aspen Times, which has been at the forefront of this poop mountain coverage: Last month volunteers scooped up 100 pounds — yes 100 pounds — of dog poop from a mountain trail. Now rangers have had to mark off another 50 or so piles with pink flags.
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails senior ranger John Armstrong told the Aspen Times it’s “deja poo,” which is an excellent pun for a sad occasion. Back in March, he told the newspaper that the problem is especially bad this year:
“It has been disgusting this year,” [Armstrong] said Monday after marking a field of dog feces with hot-pink flags. “It seems like we’ve regressed back five or six years.”
Armstrong said officials have been actively working with users to lessen the problem for about eight years. This year, the most egregious offense, he said, has been users who put their dog’s poop in a plastic bag but leave the bag behind for someone else to dispose of it.
“I don’t know who they figure is going to pick it up, but there’s not a poop fairy,” Armstrong said. “We don’t have slaves that go behind people and clean up after them.”
That “poop fairy” idea gave rise to this public service campaign:
Look, owning a dog and living around other humans implies some pretty basic responsibilities, foremost among them the picking up of poop. Sorry that it’s kind of gross, but this is what you’ve signed up to do.
And you can bring upon legal troubles for not cleaning up after your pooch. The citation runs about $100. In 2012, a woman faced a 30-minute trial for accusations that she didn’t scoop her dog’s poop on Smuggler Mountain (a judge dismissed the charge).
Dog poop causes a lot of trouble in neighborhoods across the country. In 2011, a jury exonerated a Virginia dogwalker for not cleaning up dog poop after a day-long trial that involved a lot of in-depth discussions about poop and accusations from neighbors.
Some places in California take dog DNA samples, the Associated Press notes. A condo association in Alexandria, Va. has contracted a dog DNA testing company to figure out which dogs are responsible for the loads left around the building.
Smuggler Mountain rangers may have to do something similar. But first, they’re considering a rule forcing dog owners to use leashes during the first half-mile of the trail, where most of the offenders do their business.
[This story has been updated to reflect a correction later made by the Aspen Times that volunteers picked up 100 pounds of dog poop, not 600.]
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