This sign at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm’s trail network says pet owners are to pickup and dispose of pet waste. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Failure of dog owners to clean up after their pets on town trails and other public properties is raising a stink in Gorham.

Last week, an offender was spotted not picking up after a dog outside the municipal center, leaving a deposit right under the noses of town officials.

Town Council Chairperson Lee Pratt said this week the town has received numerous complaints about animal waste on trails and town-owned fields.

“People need to pick up their pet waste and dispose of it,” Pratt said. “I do not see this any different than littering.”

Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said Tuesday it’s a problem common to Gorham and most communities. “We obviously ask that everyone pick up after their animals and respect public property. However, it continues to be a problem,” he said.

A sign at a trailhead at Shaw Cherry Hill Farm, as one example, clearly instructs pet owners to pick up and dispose of pet waste.

The matter has prompted Town Council Vice Chairperson Suzanne Phillips and Councilor Benjamin Hartwell in the past two board meetings to urge residents to clean up after their pets.

Because complaints have been reported to various town staff besides those seen posted on social media Phillips did not know how many complaints have been filed.

But, “there has definitely been more complaints than before the pandemic,” she said.

Phillips said people were upset this spring that local sports coaches had to clean up the fields before every game.

“I have personally seen people not clean up after their dogs on the Cherry Hill trails, in Robie Ball field and on the grass by the library,” she said.

If the problem is not remedied, a ban could be on the horizon.

Pratt said with all the “wonderful trails and space” the town offers he does not want to restrict pets. “But if people do not start picking up after their pets, this may be the only option,” Pratt said.

Phillips has seen complaints about the issue posted on social media besides those directed to her.

Additionally, feces on playing fields and children’s playgrounds is a public health concern, Phillips said.

Cemeteries have also been targeted and violators could be cited under a town ordinance that requires dogs to be on leashes and those walking them must pick up droppings.

Pratt said most people are considerate of rules and it’s the few that ruin it for others.

“We have so many great natural resources in town and we just want to keep them accessible for everyone,” Pratt said.

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