The Scoop on Poop

August 26, 2012 Posted by: Julie Carpenter

The dogs in the Denali National Park kennels produce up to 50 pounds of poo a day. That's the same weight as some of our sled dogs! In 1980, the kennels staff decided that launching all that poo down the hill behind the kennels building probably wasn't the greatest idea. To minimize the build up of waste and keep our kennels area clean, a composting program was established. We built a four bin system in which the waste (nitrogen) is mixed with sawdust (carbon) and water and rotated regularly until it transforms into a soil that is jam-packed with nutrients.

Our compost bins under construction. NPS photo.

The mixture of waste, sawdust, and water is carefully concocted to give us a carbon: nitrogen ratio of 20 or 30:1, with the consistency of a worn out sponge. Once the texture and ratio are adequate, we'll start monitoring the temperature of the pile. As the pile sits, microorganisms digest the nitrogen and carbon of the waste mixture and heat is produced. The temperature of the pile tells you the level of microbial activity within it. In Denali, we wait for a pile to heat up to 145° F before we turn it.

When the microorganisms have broken down all the organic material, the pile is done "cooking". This process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. The odorless, nutrient-rich material that is produced is called humus. It increases the nutrient content of soils and helps retain moisture. Composting also reduces the volume of waste by over 50%!

 We use this compost in flowerbeds and gardens in the Denali area. By composting our dogs' waste, we are being resourceful and sustainable. We are reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, cutting out the need for big trucks to transport all that poo, and making our park even more beautiful. So the next time you're moseying through the Denali dog yard, don't be afraid to stop and smell the flowers. Even our dogs appreciate the benefits of composting… just ask Cassin!

Cassin takes in the aroma of flowers grown from the compost he helped create. NPS photo.

6 Comments Comments icon

  1. November 25, 2012 at 01:56

    It's Nov. 25 2012. How have you prepared for winter, and what are the kennel dogs and puppies doing now?

  2. September 19, 2012 at 09:47

    These are really really cute dogs

  3. September 18, 2012 at 03:56

    Outstanding! This is a great plan that veterinarians and kennels should evaluate. Something we will look into.

  4. September 11, 2012 at 05:43

    It is not recommended to place composted dog waste into gardens which produce human consumed vegetables. The parasite that can be found in Dog wastes are not fully destroyed in th ecomposting process and can be carried into the human food chain.

  5. August 28, 2012 at 05:32

    This is FANTASTIC!!! If only kennels and shelters could do this everywhere- Kudos!

  6. August 27, 2012 at 07:53

    Cool idea - congratulations on a successful "poogram"!

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Last updated: July 18, 2016

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