Team of Border Collies Work To Keep Airline Passengers And Birds Safe

A highly skilled and expertly trained working dog will soon be setting off for an assignment in the Hawaiian Islands. He has been training for months with Goose Masters in Franklinville, North Carolina and will join two other working dogs and kennel mates already working in Kauai. These 3 Border Collies will make up a team that is charged with the important task of keeping airline passengers, crew, and a species of protected birds safe at the island’s airport. 

Nene Birds Were Settling In

Nene birds are a federally protected species of goose that lives exclusively in the Hawaiian Islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Hawaii. They are the official state bird of Hawaii and although their numbers are now on the rise, they are considered an at-risk species. When flocks of the birds starting settling in at a resort near by the airport in Kauai, officials began looking for safe, humane ways to relocate the birds. Their presence poses a risk to their lives and those of the passengers and crew members flying in and out of the airport in Kauai if they fly in the path of any planes. 

Goose Masters Called In

The United States Department of Agriculture consulted with the company Goose Masters in North Carolina. They have been training and working Border Collies to humanely relocate Canadian geese for decades. Multifamily complexes, neighborhood associations, golf courses, and parks departments rely on Goose Masters to move Canadian geese from property, alleviating property owner concerns around the waste and damage large flocks leave in their wake. The Border Collies herd the geese, getting them to fly away.

Kent and Gwen Kuykendall own and manage Goose Masters. Kent told WRAL, “The border collie is the best breed. They are quiet they are maneuverable you can direct them to be very precise in the direction they put birds up,” said Kent Kuykendall.They hand picked the Border  Collies to be trained for the resort in Kauai. First Quinn and Quade were trained by the Kuykendalls at the farm in Franklinville that is home to Goose Masters.

The United States Department of Agriculture sent over two handlers to train alongside the Kuykendalls and then the Kuykendalls traveled to Kauai to work at the resort with Quinn, Quade, and their handlers. Gwen said those weeks were a bit tricky, but eventually the dogs and the handlers began accomplishing their mission. She told WRAL, “We couldn’t put the birds up into the aircraft so, yeah, it was a very delicate and nerve wracking few weeks.”

Impressive Results within Weeks

The initial estimates were that it would take several years for the dogs to successfully relocate the nene birds. Quinn and Quade were far more successful than imagined, successfully relocating about 90% of the population in just 3 weeks! Rowdy is joining the team to keep up the good work. I am sure he will be happy to see his kennel mates and get to work relocating the nene birds.

Featured Image Goose Masters/Facebook

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