A Sunday morning cleanup effort by high school students and the city of Duluth resulted in saving 50 pounds of dog waste from entering the waters around Duluth.

In just two hours, a small group of students and teachers from Harbor City International School picked up approximately 200 gallons of dog waste in a half mile segment along Hawk Ridge.

"If it's not picked up, dog waste can end up in our streams and lakes and cause contamination," said Dean McManus, a sophomore at Harbor City. "So we've been walking along the trails and looking carefully for waste and using these little grabbers to pick it up and bag them."

The poop picker-uppers were provided by A Place for Fido, a pet supply store in Duluth. The store also donated prizes, including a $50 gift card and other dog cleanup supplies, for people who use the hashtag #nopoopfairy when posting on social media.

Harbor City International School science teacher Kristian Hartmann (left) and sophomore Dean McManus pick up dog poop along East Skyline Parkway on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Harbor City International School science teacher Kristian Hartmann (left) and sophomore Dean McManus pick up dog poop along East Skyline Parkway on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The students are part of Harbor City's Action Club team, which participates in other cleanup efforts such as beach sweeps every spring and fall.

"We found out from a survey that was sent out last October that 44% of people didn't know about the impacts dog waste can have on people and the environment," McManus said. "And somewhere around 20% said they didn't consider picking up dog waste important. That's way too big of a number."

The survey was completed by waste reduction coordinator for the city of Duluth Kaleb Montgomery in October 2020. There were approximately 300 responses gathered from the survey. This motivated Montgomery and city sustainability officer Mindy Granley to organize an awareness campaign as well as cleanups such as Sunday's.

Harbor City International School sophomore Dean McManus stands near plastic bags containing some of the dog droppings she and others gathered along East Skyline Parkway on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Harbor City International School sophomore Dean McManus stands near plastic bags containing some of the dog droppings she and others gathered along East Skyline Parkway on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

"People don't realize that it's not just a pesky trail problem, it's a water-quality problem," Granley said. "Everything we picked up today is what's left after winter. It doesn't just go away when the snow goes. That's why we have the big push to pick up as much as we can before it all goes into the streams and lake."

Once the poop was gathered in large bags, it was left out as a display at the trailhead as a reminder to visitors to pick up after their dogs. Granley said it will be properly disposed by city staff Monday morning.