Dogs herd overpopulated geese as alternative to euthanization

Updated: Jul. 29, 2019 at 4:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You may see geese at your local park or on a nearby lake - but what happens when there are too many in one area? That’s where the dogs come in.

Greg, Hoop and Bett are border collies with the group Flyaway Geese, and they are on a mission: to get geese off the property. We followed them for a day during their work on the golf course at Cabarrus Country Club.

Bett, Hoop & Greg relax before herding geese. (Source WBTV)
Bett, Hoop & Greg relax before herding geese. (Source WBTV)

Rebecca Gibson owns the family business Flyaway Geese. She says their methods are a more humane practice - an alternative to euthanizing geese from overpopulation or where the birds gathers and are unwanted by property owners.

“Basically, the reason that it works is because a border collie is one of the only breeds of dogs that moves its prey by stalking, very much like a wolf or coyote would,” says Gibson.

So why is it an issue if you have too many geese on your property?

“They can cause issues with water quality they can cause beaches to shut down," explains Gibson. “You see a lot of that during the summertime where bacteria levels get very high in the water.”

Gibson also says, geese go to the bathroom frequently.

“Golfers are putting through that, they pick their ball up they pick their tee up, put in in their mouth. Geese carry giardia, e coli..”

When Flyaway Geese dogs come in they do whats called an “intensive push.”

“For about 2 weeks, when the dogs come out 2 or three times a day, really heavy push, 3 or four dogs coming in pushing the birds, convincing them to live somewhere else," says Gibson.

It teaches the geese the area they’re in isn’t a safe place where they should live.

“So the geese see the dog as a natural predator even though it doesn’t have any interest in hurting or killing the bird."

The dogs wear goggles to protect their eyes.

Protective eye wear goggles. (Source WBTV)
Protective eye wear goggles. (Source WBTV)

“When the sun’s shining and things like that, it’s hard for them to see geese and birds in the air," says Gibson.

The dogs can push geese away from land and water. By the time a dog reaches one year in age, they’re usually ready to get to work full-time. Hoop has three legs, but still runs just as fast as the other herding dogs, according to Gibson.

“Border collies for goose control. We’ve been doing it for air force bases and military installations and other places for about 22 years now," says Gibson. “Border collies are natural herding dogs, they like going out and getting things to bring them to you... it’s a natural instinct.”

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