A study has claimed that dog waste being left behind in nature reserves is resulting in overfertilization that is damaging ecosystems by reducing biodiversity and allowing a few plants to eliminate others and the wildlife that relies on their existence.
The researchers published their findings in the peer-reviewed Ecological Solutions and Evidence journal. They studied nitrogen and phosphorous levels left behind by more than 1,600 dogs at 500 nature reserves.
Looking at four reserves on the outskirts of Ghent in Belgium, researchers estimated that dog waste leaves behind an annual average of 11kg of nitrogen and 5kg of phosphorus per hectare. That means that dog feces and urine cause a greater impact on the environment than pollution in the air from farming, industry, and car exhaust fumes.
“Atmospheric nitrogen inputs from agriculture, industry and traffic rightfully receive a lot of policy attention, but dogs are entirely neglected in this respect,” lead researcher Professor Pieter De Frenne said.