JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Complaints about hundreds of Canada geese making a mess on campus and threatening students at the University of North Florida prompted the hiring of a furry new staff member to chase away the problems.
A 4-year-old Border collie named Bee, who was trained to be a Goose dog since she was a puppy, was brought in to help battle the birds at UNF.
While some may describe the honking noise that the geese make as a sound of nature, people at UNF describe it as an alarm warning of trouble.
"The adult geese are protective of their nests and they could be aggressive towards students and anyone else walking by," said Chuck Hubbuch, assistant director of Physical Facilities at UNF.
Another issue is the droppings that the geese leave behind, Hubbuch said
"It's pretty considerable. We refer to it as 'carpet bombing,' where they would just cover the sidewalks, literally. We had people complain about their shoes, tracking them into buildings," he said.
Hubbuch told News4Jax Tuesday that the department couldn't keep up with the cleanup. But since Canada geese are federally protected birds, he said they had to find a way to control the goose population without harming them.
That's where Bee comes in -- by jumping in the pond full of geese and scaring them away.
"Border collies know they're not going to catch them. All they do is herd. Their intent is not to catch," explained David Bennett, Bee's handler and vice president of Goose Masters, which is a company that specializes in goose control by using dogs to chase off the birds.
Bennett said the dogs are the best option because a lot of the alternatives don't work.
"The static displays and stuff, they don't chase. She is seen as a predator and the threat and that's all it takes," Bennett said. "They won't land if she's there."
The "goose master" has to be very specific with his commands, especially because a lot of the ponds at UNF are close to the roadways. Bennett uses commands like "lie down" and Bee, who's a great listener, immediately obeys.
Bee makes the trip to campus twice a day, and after about a month, UNF has seen a huge decrease in geese activity as well as cleaner sidewalks.
University staff said they $350 weekly cost is money well spent.
"I had no idea it was going to be as effective as it was," Hubbuch said. "She's a friendly dog, and once she's finished working, David will let the students pet her. She puts a really nice face on the whole idea and the whole program."
Bennett said he loves his job and the time he gets to spend with Bee.
"Where else can you take your best friend to work and be around your best friend everyday -- well, except my wife," Bennett said, laughing.