Pets, Farms & Wildlife

Photo by A. Grimm, 2013

Did you know...

Each gram of feces from your dog contains 23 million fecal coliform colonies capable of causing disease and harming our waterways.

You can help!

Scoop the poop and put it in the trash

Pick up dog waste in your yard and public places. Bag it and place it in the trash. A single gram of pet waste, the size of a pea, contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria colonies. The approximately 18,500 dogs in Bellingham can produce 9,250 pounds of waste a day. This is equal to the waste of 4,125 humans.

The City provides pet waste bag stations at several parks and trails.

The Hounds for Healthy Watersheds volunteer program encourages dog owners to properly dispose of their pet's waste at home and on city trails to keep trails enjoyable and waterways healthy.

Cat waste also pollutes our waterways. Approximately 25,000 outdoor cats leave waste in Bellingham yards and neighborhoods. Place a litter box outside for your cat. Bag the waste and place it in the trash.

Avoid nuisance wildlife on your property

As many Lake Whatcom residents know, Canada geese can be quite a nuisance! Concentrated populations of Canada geese and other wildlife can contribute to higher levels of nutrients and bacteria entering streams and the lake.

Photo by T. Offin, 2008

Many lakefront properties with mowed lawns and few bushes, shrubs or trees, butting right up to the lake offer geese the ideal habitat for breeding and foraging with minimal areas for potential predators to hide.

Ways to deal with Canada geese on your lakefront property include:

  • Modifying your shoreline property to make the habitat unattractive and undesirable to geese

  • Harassing birds prior to nesting using noisemakers, dogs, brooms, or rakes

  • Removing accumulated nesting materials prior to nesting

  • Erecting fences and/or barriers

Note: Geese are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, therefore there are certain things that legally you can and cannot do to remove geese from your property.

Habitat modification has been noted as the most effective, long-term solution to the resident geese problem. Here are some suggestions for making your yard and waterfront area less desirable for resident geese:

  • Allow grass to grow. Grass taller than 10 inches creates a barrier and great hiding place for animals such as dogs, foxes, raccoons, and other predators. Also consider growing alternative types of grasses that are less palatable to geese.

  • Plant trees. Having dense stands of trees can inhibit their ability to access grazing areas by limiting the amount of area they have available for takeoff and landing.

  • Put up a fence. Erecting fences can be a good short-term solution for deterring a newly residing flock.

  • Plant a buffer. Planting a 20 to 30 foot buffer of native upland, transitional and emergent vegetation at the water's edge is a long-term solution to dealing with resident geese that will also result in additional benefits such as: decreasing mowing, filtering runoff, and increasing habitat for native wildlife species.

Engage in farm practices that protect our waterways

While no new hobby farms are permitted in the Lake Whatcom Watershed, there are farm practices that existing hobby farms can engage in to protect our waterways.

  • Create a vegetated filter strip near crop land, grazing land, and livestock confinement areas that border streams or lakes to keep pollutants out of waterways.

  • Store manure in a high, dry, level area away from slopes, streams, ditches, flood prone areas, and wetlands. Cover your manure pile so rainwater cannot reach it.

  • Build your compost pile on an impervious surface or compacted site away from slopes, streams, ditches, flood prone areas, and wetlands. Cover the pile with a roof or plastic sheet to keep it from getting too wet or dry. Use only herbivore manure in your compost.

  • Rotate pastures and engage in good pasture management to improve quality forage growth while producing more grass, fewer weeds, and no bare ground.

  • Protect areas near your waterways by planting and maintaining native trees, shrubs, and groundcovers that improve salmon habitat and water quality. Fence animals out of streams, ditches, and riparian vegetation.