June 24, 2018
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The horse manure mess in Aroostook shouldn’t be hard to clean up

Walter Griffin | BDN
Walter Griffin | BDN
Horses and a buggy are pictured at an Amish farm in Thorndike in this 2009 file photo.


There are some unwritten rules in Maine about picking up animal poop, and they tend to differ in urban and rural areas. On a wooded, backcountry road, where your dog goes No. 2, you’re probably not going to pick it up. But on a downtown street, ignore those droppings at your own peril. Someone will notice. In some places you could even get a fine.

Taking an official route — such as by setting up a local ordinance — to deal with droppings left by horses hauling Amish buggies in Aroostook County shouldn’t be necessary. Presque Isle officials have started talking with regional Amish community leaders after residents complained about horse manure in roadways and public areas.

Presque Isle city councilors say they want to find a solution without creating a local regulation, and that’s exactly what they should do. There is a middle ground — and it’s one where there’s probably a little bit of poop in some areas and not in others. But reasonable people can figure this out among themselves, especially those who understand farming and animals.

Requiring horses to wear diapers would be onerous and potentially dangerous for the person making the horse cover up, especially when there’s a much simpler solution: If you’d pick up your dog poop in the place your horse pooped, the horse droppings should get scooped.

If there need to be more buckets and shovels in places where horses are commonly stationed throughout the city, so be it. And if someone wants to turn the droppings into compost, all the better.

Back at the turn of the century, horse manure was a common problem in Maine cities. In downtown Bangor, there were 30 trash cans that were each filled and emptied of “dirt” — a euphemism for horse droppings — four times per day, “making 120 cans of sweeping every fair day in the summer,” reported the Bangor Daily Commercial and described in Wayne E. Reilly’s book “Remembering Bangor: The Queen City Before the Great Fire.”

Maine knows how to deal with horse droppings, did so for many years, and can continue to do so.

It’s most important that everyone can talk openly and honestly with each other and come to a satisfactory arrangement. As Jim Risner, Fort Fairfield town manager said, “It’s important to have communication.” He dealt with the issue of “road apples” in his town in 2015.

The Amish community is a vital part of The County, and horses are their mode of transportation. It’s fair to point out that they don’t complain about everyone else’s vehicle exhaust. Luckily, however, it seems this situation will be relatively easy to clean up.


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