Poop epidemic at Minnesota state parks

Gooseberry Falls State Park, before the poopers took over.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, before the poopers took over.

With no bathrooms and no one around to clean them up during the shutdown, some of Minnesota's state parks are starting to look and smell like crap. Literally.

Minnesotans are still trying to take advantage of the parks, which have areas that are still open for daytime use. But restrooms are locked, and backpackers and picnickers have been forced to relieve themselves in the woods, according to the Pioneer Press.

There might be no better metaphor for the shutdown than otherwise responsible adults pulling down their pants and defecating on public land.


Parks are also besieged with overflowing garbage, because no Department of Natural Resources staffers are around to empty dumpsters or collect litter.

Not every park is going through the poop problem, Col. Jim Konrad of the DNR told the Pioneer Press. Among the worst he's heard about is Gooseberry Falls State Park.

"Gooseberry is the one that keeps popping up," Konrad said, in a line that sounds absolutely disgusting in this context.

Another park's trash problem could lead to terrifying results. As food waste piles up in Crow Wing State Park, black bears are beginning to feed off the park-goers leftovers. Konrad fears that when the shutdown ends, the bears will have become used to the free food, leading to confrontations with humans.

The DNR's 186 staffers who are still on the job are dealing mostly with fishing and boating regulations, leaving no one for No. 2 duty. 

Konrad, a nature lover and a pragmatist, offered his own solution.

"Bring your own little baggie along. I think if I had to poop, that's what I'd do. I do that for my dog."