Border collie to be trained to push goats away from parking lot

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Glacier National Park is looking to use a trained border collie next summer to shoo mountain goats and bighorn sheep out of the Logan Pass parking lot and other congested parking areas near the pass.

The goats and sheep are drawn to the parking lot where there’s salt and antifreeze from vehicles.

The dog, a border collie named Gracy, is owned by park supervisory biologist Mark Biel. The dog will go through several weeks of training by renowned trainer Carrie Hunt, who is best known for training Karelian bear dogs used to chase bears.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy is raising money for the training.

Biel said the use of a dog has some advantages. Dogs get a better reception from the public. The park currently has rangers use nonlethal shotgun charges to haze critters out of the parking lot. A dog is much quieter, is friendly and a better educational tool, Biel noted.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox,” he said.

Trained dogs have been used on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to keep ducks and geese out of the reflection pond at the Washington Monument, where their droppings were plugging the drains. They’re also used in Canada to keep bighorn sheep out of parking lots, Biel noted.

He said the dog will be trained to respond to voice commands, just like a normal herding collie. Training will take about six to eight weeks. It will be off leash when herding bighorn goats and sheep.

A current mountain goat study suggests the goats near Logan Pass have actually changed their migratory habits to lick salt at Logan Pass from human sources rather than going to natural salt licks near Many Glacier.

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