Raising a stink: Lawmaker proposes pick up or pay policy for animal waste

  • Courtesy—Patricia Morris

  • Ellie Morrall on Bo and Trish Morris on Joe, both of Barnstead, are shown riding near Bear Brook Stables. A proposed state law would require all riders to dispose of horse manure during rides on state property. Courtesy—Patricia Morris

  • Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School, rides her horse Joey at her farm in Barnstead on Saturday, January 19, 2019. “Dismounting and mounting on trails should only be done in emergency situations.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School, is seen with her horse Joey at her farm in Barnstead on Jan. 19. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School, rides her horse Joey at her farm in Barnstead on Saturday, January 19, 2019. “Dismounting and mounting on trails should only be done in emergency situations.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School with her horse Joey at her farm in Barnstead on Saturday, January 19, 2019. “Dismounting and mounting on trails should only be done in emergency situations.” GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School, rides her horse Joey at her farm in Barnstead on Jan. 19. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/21/2019 5:43:23 PM

A state representative who frequently hikes around the state says there’s something he wants to see less of on New Hampshire trails: Horse poop.

“It blends in with leaves, pine needles on the ground. More than once I’ve stepped in it,” said state Rep. Mike Harrington, a Republican from Strafford. “It’s gross.”

Harrington has sponsored a bill that would require anybody “who brings an animal into any parking, picnic, or camping area, or onto any road, walkway, or trail in a state park or state forest” to “remove ... all solid animal waste produced by such animal,” or face a $50 fine.

It is already drawing strong opposition from horse riders who say requiring them to stop, get off while keeping the horse under control, and somehow dispose of manure isn’t a good idea.

“Requiring a rider to dismount, regardless of the terrain, weather, population etc., to gather up 5 to 10 pounds of manure ... is ridiculous,” said Patricia Morris, who teaches animal law at UNH Law School and chairs the Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals. “Dismounting and mounting on trails should only be done in emergency situations.”

Morris is familiar with this issue. She was a prominent opponent of 2013 attempts by the state to revise rules about use of state parks and trails that would have done basically what Harrison’s bill would require, mandating horse manure to be removed. That plan was eventually shelved.

“What we don’t oppose, any of us, is that any of the public builtup areas – trailheads, parking lots – need to be cleaned up, not just of manure but of hay and shavings,” Morris said. “But requiring it on trails isn’t safe, isn’t practical.”

Morris said Harrington’s bill would also send the wrong message to the horse-riding community, which spends millions of dollars in New Hampshire.

Harrington, however, says the current situation sends the wrong message to hikers, who also spend a lot of time and money here.

“I’ve never run into a single hiker that says, ‘I think horse poop on the trails is a good idea.’ They all say, ‘why can’t they just get it off the trail?’ ” he said.

“(The bill) says to remove it from the trail. My theory is, someone’s riding, the horse poops, you get off and get your shovel out, scoop it up and throw it in the woods. You don’t have to carry it with you,” Harrington said. “That takes less time than it does for me to clean the horse poop off my boots once I’ve stepped in it.”

Harrington said he was prompted to file the bill
part by what he called increasing of horse manure at Northwood Meadows State Park in Northwood, both on the trails and in public
areas, even close to picnic tables.

Harrington pointed to the situation with the canine community.

“You’re supposed to pick up after your dogs. There are signs about it, little green bags everywhere. Poop is poop, I don’t care who’s doing it,” he said.

The bill, HB 296, has been put before the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee. No hearing has yet been scheduled.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313, dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)




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