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LETTER: Circumstances have created new risk to wildlife

Editor: Today, Tuesday, June 2, my friend went biking with her dog. She passed a trailhead along the Bow River. Two hours later, the dog was barely responsive. She phoned me. We went to the vet.

Editor:

On June 2, my friend went biking with her dog and she passed a trailhead along the Bow River.

Two hours later, the dog was barely responsive. She phoned me and we went to the vet.

Waiting our turn outside because, you know, COVID-19, the dog was weaving and drooling a bit. Dog throws up. Vet comes out and takes the dog inside. 

Wearing gloves, I pick up the vomit and smell it. Involuntary gag response – human excrement.

I text Sylvia, the vet. The clinic tests the dog. He is stoned. Ian, other vet, says dog can go home and sleep it off. Sylvia texts that the dog is “high as a kite. Human excrement has pretty high in THC content from edibles.”

My friend recalls going past some human waste next to the river, just in the bush from the trailhead. Another resident of Exshaw recalls an illegal camper the night before in that location. Someone else comes into the post office and notes that there is a bear coming towards town along the highway. 

I would never have considered wildlife getting stoned from eating human excrement at trailheads, but after this spring's stupid human behaviour (bathroom breaks at trailhead parking lots in Kananakis Country), and watching my friend’s dog, I can now see the possibility.

Human excrement has high food value to dogs and wildlife. Coyotes will routinely eat dog feces in dog walking areas. Dogs will lick up and roll in a human’s waste.

How do you make a warning for this possible outcome? How do you explain to illegal campers not to poop at trailheads when they’re high? 

Perhaps the first thing that should be open in all of our parks and recreation areas are the outhouses, and the cleaners should be getting higher wages than those of us with degrees but no common sense. 

If a warden or a conservation officer saw a bear cub sitting on the side of the road, head weaving, mouth drooling, would they even for one moment consider THC edibles? Likely not. 

My friend’s dog slept off his "high" and came back to normal 10 hours later.

Wendy Bush,

Canmore



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