A border collie named Gracie is the first dog to be employed by a national park.
Her job should come to her naturally. Gracie herds sheep for her owner, Mark Biel, and her job will be to keep bighorn sheep and mountain goats out of the way of tourists at Glacier National Park in Montana.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most intelligent canines on the planet, the use of border collies for practical purposes in controlling wildlife is spreading. They are becoming more popular in keeping birds away from airports, an important safety consideration for jets and planes during landing and takeoff.
Usually pleasant and tractable, the dogs are friendly and sharp and fun to watch with their athletic form and crisp markings.
Dogs like Gracie take to the work very naturally. Speaking from experience, having owned a rescued dog who's bloodline was clearly that of an Australian Cattle-dog, these animals are an amazing breed.
Each morning Pepper would zoom out the door and try to herd anything that was within her site.
Most of the time these two bunny rabbits were her unfortunate quarry. These poor babies who a moment ago had been thoroughly enjoying a peaceful meal of dew soaked grass now found themselves being chased by an overjoyed, hyperactive herding dog.
Pepper and my son Joey after a day full of fun
Our yard was fenced in, so these scared little rabbits would have no idea where to escape and with Pepper hot on their fluffy tails, the poor things would run around aimlessly looking for some way to get out.
Pepper for her part would diligently herd the 2 little ones into a corner and then the moment she had them right where she wanted... She simply walked away and if you knew her you could tell she was smiling, knowing that on this day, she did her ancestors proud.
Coming into the house for a nice and in her mind, well deserved drink of water, she would once again return outside looking for anything she could herd, since the bunnies were now long gone, Pepper would patiently wait.
Sometimes Pepper would not move for hours, she knew sooner-rather-than-later something that was she deemed "Herdable," would eventually come into her vicinity and once again the game would be afoot.
Pepper, may she rest in peace, herded whatever was in front of her, other dogs, cats, birds, even young wayward children when we had a party, but never once did she ever tried to harm any of them. She was just a dog that like things orderly.
“This might be where the future of wildlife management is,” Biel said. “It’s more cost effective and generally effective than contracting out to private companies and their dogs. If this works, I can see it taking off.”