Wildlife waste blamed for pollution in D.C.-area waterways

Tired of being left out, nature has decided to join in the fun and pollute itself. A significant amount of harmful bacteria in Virginia and Maryland waterways has been pinned on, well, wildlife poop. The Potomac and Anacostia rivers and an additional two dozen or so streams have been declared federally “impaired waters”: not ideal for swimming and in need of cleanup. In both rivers, more than half of the bacteria came from the dung of geese, deer, muskrats, raccoons, and other wild animals (humans’ poo contributed nearly a quarter of the Anacostia’s bacteria, and 16 percent of the Potomac’s). “You need to go back and say, ‘Maybe the standards aren’t exactly right’ if wildlife are causing the problem,” said Thomas Henry of the U.S. EPA. But enviros don’t want to let human-caused pollution sources off the hook. “Just ignore the wildlife and deal with the leaking sewer pipes,” said Robert Boone of the Anacostia Watershed Society. And maybe they could build wildlife-designated public restrooms?