Border Collies to the Rescue

A recent report from Columbia, MD.

Sheep dogs to chase [herd] the geese

October 23, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun
Visitors to Columbia’s Lakefront promenade have increasingly been confronted by panhandling resident Canada geese, who had stayed away for years, chased by Glenn and Bud, the town’s two border collies. But two years after the last dog died, the birds seem to have forgotten they’re not wanted..

It took them about 1 – 1/2 years to figure out” that the dogs were gone, Rob Goldman, CA’s chief operating officer, told the elected 10-member CA board at a recent meeting. But now that the flocks of resident birds know there’s nothing to fear, they’ve been doing some strolling before the outdoor restaurant tables, egging for table scraps and leaving their calling cards on the sidewalk.

Though some visitors like to see the waterfowl when they walk along the water, many in the town believe the non-migratory geese are a nuisance. In addition to being annoying, the mess they leave at all three lakes and other ponds damages water quality and promotes the growth of algae.

The Columbia Association board has cleared the way to hire five border collies to resume a task once performed by Glenn and Bud, though no actual count of the current flock’s size has been attempted.

Though it might be unpleasant for the birds who are being chased, the idea is to make them go away, not to harm them or even prevent their eggs from hatching, as other places do. Goldman said Columbia officials worry that would be seen as killing geese by town residents. “We’re concerned with the community response,” he said.

Howard County parks officials, like those in Reston, Va., have another way to control the goose population. At county-owned Centennial Lake, in Ellicott City, parks worker Phil Norman said goose eggs are coated with vegetable oil each spring, which smothers the embryos.”We’ve been doing that for over a decade,” he said, though it requires time to find the roughly 50 nests around the lake. Columbia’s goose population is growing, though, officials said, so the dogs are needed.