Rose the Airport Bird Control dog known throughout Alaska as Kenai Airport's "ABC Dog," returned to her home last week in California at the Dog & Whistle Goose Control kennel. Her handler Olivia Pfeifer said it was pretty sad to see her go, but that the results of her trial program seemed very positive. "It went very well, we're still analyzing the results, but there were a record amount of birds at the Kenai Airport this summer so it was a perfect year for the trial and Rose had her work cut out for her." Olivia told the Dispatch, "Last year they recorded having to haze some 800 birds and this summer Rose alone hazed more than 1,400 birds, so we were fortunate to have her here this year and it will allow us to evaluate her effectiveness better," said Pfeifer.
According to Olivia, some of the birds such as the Sand Hill Cranes became aware of Rose as soon as she was in the area and would fly away as soon as they knew she was coming. "Groups of seagulls seemed to just keep coming because there were so many, but with the Cranes once they got a whiff of her they would fly away as fast as they could and not return almost like they were learning to stay away.
There was only one time she became out numbered, there were hundreds of birds on the runway and we had her running up and down the runway about 12 times and she got really tired before all the birds were successfully hazed, but that was the only time. Every other time she went out, she cleared the runway," she said.
The project began as a Caring for the Kenai contest idea that won Pfeifer 1st Place in the annual contest sponsored by Chevron and Tesoro in 2009. Then with the support of Kenai Airport manager Mary Bondurant, and the Kenai Watershed Forum Olivia pursued her idea getting local businesses to fund the experimental project as sponsors. "Yes, it was sad to see her go. She is a very nice dog. Overall, the project of using a border collie for bird hazing was successful. She knew her job and worked hard to chase every bird off that she saw," said Bondurant. Pfeifer too was happy with the results. "The community and the City of Kenai have been great in supporting the project. I have learned so much about government, business, fundraising, our local environment, and how the City and airport work. It's been a great experience and it's not over yet. I had to fill out wildlife assessment forms every time we used Rose to haze and we kept records each time she went out versus how many birds had to be killed. So once we have all the data together we'll be able to evaluate whether using repetitive canine patrols is an effective means of airport bird control. I plan on sharing my research with other airports and hope that this program gets implemented in other places. I can't believe the summer passed so quickly, it'll be hard because every morning I'd wake up and she would be right next to me. It was an amazing summer job and I'd love to do it again and hope that it'll be economically feasible for the City to bring Rose or another boarder collie back next summer," she said. Learn more about Rose the ABC Dog and the 2011 Caring for the Kenai competition by logging on to Facebook and Twitter at www.caringforthekenai.com.
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