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Geese ‘police’ to patrol National Mall

Border collies like this dog will patrol the National Mall through February to scare away flocks of geese that have become a nuisance to visitors. The dogs got to work Wednesday, and greeted the press Thursday, May 14, 2015. (WTOP/John Aaron)

WASHINGTON — Geese have gotten pretty comfortable on and around the National Mall, and that’s become a problem for people who want to walk through those areas.

In addition to being aggressive, the animals are known for the large amounts of droppings they create.

“For anybody that’s walked along the Mall, up and down the reflecting pool, on the Washington Monument grounds, you notice…the effect the geese have,” says Mike Litterst with the National Park Service.

Now, the agency is calling in professional help, in the form of border collies. Litterst says the concept of using dogs to chase away nuisance geese is not new.

“It’s been used for years on golf courses; it’s been used in Central Park,” he says.

The dogs’ work began Wednesday and is being coordinated by a private company, which will try to clear the monument grounds, reflecting pool, and fields near the World War II Memorial of geese.

The dogs will visit the areas three to four times a day, seven days a week, according to Doug Marcks, owner of Geese Police, which will perform the work through at least February.

Marcks says the dogs are trained to appear as if they are hunting the geese in order to get them to fly off.

“By using that posture, the geese count my dogs as a natural predator, like a wolf, a coyote, an arctic fox,” he says.

The dogs will have handlers with them, and the animals can easily be spotted in their bright green vests. Marcks says the dogs are friendly to strangers during their down time, but they ignore people when they’re working.

“There’s two things the dog cares about: It’s where I am, and where I’m sending him,” he says.

Marcks says the company usually begins to see improvement in serious goose-related problems within six to eight weeks.

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