News: Border Collies to Herd Canada Geese in Central Park

I got to watch some sheepdog trials at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival last Fall. It would be cool to watch them in action in Central Park. And there's always Sheep Meadow in Prospect Park!
This April, the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation will pilot a one-month program using an environmentally-safe method to attempt to reduce the number of geese in Central Park. The first step of the process includes herding- but never touching or attacking- the geese with highly-trained border collies. Skilled trainers will lead two border collies in driving the geese away from the Park’s lawns and water bodies throughout the month of April. Parks Department Rangers and Central Park Conservancy staffers will supervise training and goose management.
Large flocks of resident Canada geese leave excessive goose droppings, resulting in large areas of landscape that are unavailable for public use and recreation. In Central Park, geese continually overgraze the grass around the Harlem Meer and its surrounding landscapes, increasing erosion. The high nitrogen content in goose droppings can alter water chemistry and produce algae that rob the water of oxygen, killing fish and other wildlife.

Bred to herd sheep, collies have a natural instinct to round up flocks of geese. By patrolling various areas of the Park, the geese will be encouraged to abandon the lawns and water. In conjunction with the border collies, public education is crucial. Feeding geese only encourages them to linger in public areas. Herding dogs and education are two methods of Canada goose management that are approved by the Humane Society and the USDA Office of Wildlife Services.

To deem its effectiveness in Central Park, Geese Police Inc. will pilot a month-long, 24-hour-a- day program. At the end of the month, the Central Park Conservancy and the Parks Department will determine its effectiveness in moving the geese and interacting with the public before extending the project.


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