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Courtesy photo

Trim, Kate, and Devlin can help area businesses and neighborhoods with pesky geese on their property.

“We don’t start training until they are about a year old, with formal herd training,” said Gwen Kuykendall with Goose Masters. “We handle them, ride them in kayaks, get them acclimated to water. It can take two to three years to finish and get them seasoned to finally go out on accounts.”

Trim, Kate, and Devlin are border collies with the North Carolina-based Goose Masters, which specializes in geese control with trained, working border collies that flush out geese who set up camp in a place where they have no other predator and get them to move elsewhere.

Based in Franklinville, N.C., but working from the Triad area all the way down to Wilmington, Shalotte and the Grand Strand, Gwen and her husband Kent have worked with neighborhood homeowner’s associations and private properties all the way to golf courses and corporate facilities with water features that attract geese.

Messy droppings that can cause health concerns, aggressive behavior, and grass reduction are just some of the reasons people want to get rid of geese on their property.

“Millions of dollars are lost each year to grass reduction, and clean-up costs can reach unrealistic amounts … parks and beaches have lost entire recreational seasons to the birds setting up residence along the shore,” according to their website.

Kuykendall said that since the dog is a natural predator of the goose, the geese are frightened by the dog’s presence and will leave the area over time.

“No other breed of dog possesses the trait we call the ‘eye’ of the Border Collie,” she explained.

The Border Collie is thrilled by the mere opportunity to stalk, not retrieve like a Labrador Retriever, and they have an instinct and determination to “work” the geese instead of attacking them.

The geese get tired of being pestered and choose to move to another place they feel safer.

Kuykendall said timing is everything.

“Nesting is a really critical time, because if we can harass the geese enough, we can prevent nests. If we don’t catch the nest, we can still work the families off the property so they are not there through the molt,” Kuykendall said. “If they do molt on people’s properties they can’t fly away.”

If that happens, the geese could hang around through the summer.

“Fall is a different sort of season, then we’re back to nesting again. Nesting and molting, right now through summer are probably the most critical,” Kuykendall said.

The way it works is similar to a lawn care or pest control contract. Residents or business owners set up a contract for the season and Goose Masters will come out as needed to flush out the geese populations.

“The price can range from $100 per week up to big facilities to around $600 per week,” she said. “It depends on the size of the [body of] water, and depends on how long the geese have been there. It’s a maintenance program … geese will try to come in periodically.”

She said the geese normally come back to the same place so they try to interrupt that cycle.

Kuykendall said they take care of their dogs – while the dogs will get in the water many times to swim and flush out the geese up near Raleigh, there are other worries about doing that locally.

“We work the dogs on the banks … We worry about gators down there – we do put the dogs in kayaks … we work the outskirts of the pond and are very, very careful,” she said.

The three dogs in the Grand Strand and Wilmington area are just part of a fleet of dogs belonging to Goose Masters, and they are part of their other business, Kuykendall’s Border Collies, where they breed and train the dogs.

She said in the past, sometimes a golf course or similar facility’s superintendent will buy their own trained border collie and keep it as their pet, but have it work their properties. They also recently held demonstrations at local campground facilities.

According to their website, Goose Master’s goose control techniques are approved by the USDA Wildlife Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Humane Society and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recommended the use of Border Collies for goose control.

Check out Goose Masters at www.goose-masters.com or call the Kuykendalls at (336) 653-4100.

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