Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone knew of any examples of citizen science programs focused on pet waste. I asked on Twitter and did a bit of a search but didn't turn up much. Searching the app store for "dog poop" wasn't particularly helpful and I don't recommend doing that at all...
I did come across a program called "Poo Power" in Australia, but it doesn't seem to be current. here is the link: https://blog.nature.org/science/2014/12/02/citizen-science-poo-power-biogas-water-quality-dog-bacteria/
I'm also aware of a great broader-scale CBSM effort developed by Action Research, where Girl Scouts helped homeowners identify "poo points" on their property - areas near waterways that should be a priority for scooping the poop. The Girl Scouts interviewed and educated the residents with pamphlets using normative messaging, and they also gave out little flags to identify the poo points which then served as prompts. Such a cool project! I'd love to see it done with more youth groups and environmental education efforts. There's a video about the project you can watch, here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/k5pmttfkhivckq6/Poo%20Points%20CASQA.mp4?dl=0
Here on Maui, we started getting anecdotal accounts of more dog poop going unscooped than usual during our coronavirus lockdown. I don't know if this represents reality, and I don't even have a dog myself so my own observations are limited, but it's interesting. I manage an outreach program that focuses on watershed stewardship, and the pet waste issue has been on the back burner awhile. We don't have any water quality data here that I'm aware of specifically relating to this topic, but I thought a citizen science protocol could be a good way to identify hot spots for pet waste near waterways and storm drains. I developed a draft protocol and datasheet (with some help from community members on Facebook), and we're trying to pilot it. I think it could integrate into some environmental education programming as well. However, we'd like to get some feedback from folks (especially teachers) about the overall effort - would you do something like this with your students? What changes would be useful? If you'd like to check out our draft datasheet, you can download it from here: http://www.westmauikumuwai.org/news--events/socially-distant-ocean-friendly-dog-walking-with-a-science-geek-upgrade
I don't have any citizen science examples for you, but this is a great start! If you have a GIS Department, or if you can set up a Survey 123 app yourself, you could take the data collection online. Our neighboring county needed the ability to track where wildlife is in order to find wildlife poop to sample for a DNA project, and they made a map that could allow members of the public and staff to submit where they saw different wildlife. You could easily do this with piles of dog poop to see if you can track hotspots. And then you'd have maps that may look scandalous enough to show the public to cause some level of outrage. Make sure the media gets a copy of the map, and be ready for an interview!
Do you have any volunteer groups that would be willing to take poo-tracking on for a weekend? Student groups would totally work too. Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. I'm thinking a short, intensive survey would be handy. That way, you'd know you weren't double-counting piles. You could even combine it with flagging each pile for a week or two like Springfield, MO did. https://fox4kc.com/news/is-this-your-turd-springfields-cleanup-flags-dog-poop/ I've really, REALLY wanted to imitate this program in some of our more popular areas with a scout troop, just haven't had the time. And I suspect our problem has a lot more to do with lazy yard pickup rather than walks.
Anyway, I hope that helps! Good luck!