Dogs Improve Beach Sanitation

Canines that chase away seagulls have been helping to reduce the amount of bird droppings, which can carry disease and lead to beach closures.

By Edyta Zielinska | September 4, 2012

lsiegert" > Flickr, lsiegert

Letting dogs loose on public beaches could help decrease beach closures from microbial threats. Microbes in seabird guano, such as certain strains of E. coli and Enterococcus, can reach high levels during the summer, forcing beach managers to close certain areas to the public. While many tactics, including spraying oil on nests to prevent hatching, have been used, sending dogs to chase the birds may be most effective, researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency reported this month (August 22) in Environmental Science & Technology.

Researchers sampled the waters from a beach on Lake Michigan near Chicago before the start of beach season, then sent out trained border collies, along with handlers who picked up after the dogs, to chase birds all day. “Harassment by dogs was an effective method of gull control: average daily gull populations fell from 665 before to 17 during intervention,” the authors wrote in the paper.

However, some researchers aren’t convinced that seagull poop is connected to human disease. Other birds, as well as humans, could be driving the bacterial populations as well, Richard Whitman, a research ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station told ScienceNOW.

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Avatar of: GSmall


Posts: 6

September 5, 2012

For someone who lives in the UK, I read the title of this article, 'Dogs Improve Beach Sanitation', with rather a sense of irony. Although I note that handlers picked up after the dogs used to scare birds in this study, the problem of British dog owners not picking up after their pooches has led to dog bans on many popular UK beaches during the summer season.

Avatar of: Miheer


Posts: 1

October 22, 2012

The initiative to maintain the beach sanitation is crucial but the method used to implement is a conjecture.

I would like to support with the evidence that, its will be difficult for the people who suffer from cynophobia to roam around the beach freely.

The waste genrated by dog will be on the beach itself. The dogs should be trained enough to dump there waste at proper places.

It can be noisy enviorment beacuse dogs barking and running behind the seagulls to scare away from the beach.


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