‘Sticking and flicking’ is no better than littering
Friday 17th March 2017
Dog walker on St Catherine's Hill © Matt Doggett
Poo bags hanging from branches are a distressingly common blight on our local countryside, but the recent campaign to abandon bags in favour of the ‘stick and flick’ approach is not the answer. Dog mess isn’t just unsightly to look at, it can contain parasites and diseases which if left on the ground or flicked into vegetation can pose a real threat to people and wildlife.
Dog fouling is hazardous to the health of children and education groups trying to learn more about our wonderful natural world, not to mention the health of Wildlife Trust staff that care for our nature reserves. It doesn’t take much to imagine how nasty the task of brush-cutting scrub can get if the undergrowth is full of dog poo! It also costs valuable charity funds to clear up the mess.
More fundamentally, dog mess changes the chemical make-up of our soils. It adds extra nutrients and upsets the balance, promoting the growth of unwanted nettles and brambles. You wouldn’t throw artificial fertilisers over our iconic wildflower meadows - but leaving dog mess is not so different.
Dog faeces can also contain the parasite Neospora caninum which can cause spontaneous abortion in livestock. This is a serious risk on many of our nature reserves and farms where grazing is an essential management tool. The Wildlife Trust’s British White cattle have been impacted by Neospora, with the infection causing the loss of valuable calves from our grazing herd.
Debbie Tann, CEO at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust commented, “We believe it’s irresponsible to give out conflicting messages to dog owners as this ‘stick and flick’ campaign is doing. We’ve always been very clear about the importance of responsible dog walking on our nature reserves and in the wider countryside. We ask visitors to pick up their dog mess and put it in a bin or take it home with them. The majority of dog walkers who like to enjoy nature understand the need to act respectfully when on a wildlife site or in the countryside.”
Find out more about responsible dog walking on nature reserves.