Forget global warming and sequestration-related budget cuts, is the scariest threats to our national parks horse poop?
A new study finds that what visiting horses leave behind in parks is noxious–and not just the aroma. Researchers at Griffith University in Australia analyzed weed seeds dispersed via horse poop (we suspect interns were involved). Their research appears in the journal Ecological Management and Restoration in an article called, “A global review of weeds that can germinate from horse dung.”
“We reviewed 15 studies on seed germination from horse dung; six from Europe, four from North America, three from Australia and one study each from Africa and Central America,” Griffith University associate professor and study author Catherine Pickering said in a university release.
“Of the 2,739 non-native plants that are naturalized in Australia, 156 have been shown to germinate in horse dung,” she said. “What is very concerning is this includes 16 of the 429 listed noxious weeds in Australia and two weeds of national significance.”
Yellowstone and Yosemite are not safe from the same type of risk. The study found a similar threat may be emerging in this part of the world with seeds from 105 of the 1596 invasive/noxious plant species in North America also germinating in horse dung.
“Not only are the seeds dispersed through dung but the manure provides the means by which the introduced plant to take hold,” Pickering said. “To maintain the conservation value of protected areas, it is vitally important to understand and manage the different potential weed dispersal vectors, including horses. Legislators everywhere should take these into consideration before opening parks to this recreational activity.”
Fear not, Ranger Rick. There is a solution.
May we present the Bun Bag. A purse for poop, bun bags may become the must-have “accessory” for riding on public lands.
MORE PLEASE! If you liked this post, check out…