>Birdie is just beginning to learn her place at Meadow Lakes Golf Course. The young puppy will soon be the scourge of the flocks of ducks and geese that have made the golf course's ponds their home
The newest addition to the staff at Prineville's municipal golf course has begun taking lessons. Birdie, a young Border Collie, is being trained to herd the flocks of ducks and geese that use the ponds on the golf course.
Grounds superintendent Wayne VanMatre explained that golfers have complained about the mess that the birds make on the fairways. With 11 ponds, the golf course has been a popular resting place for flocks of migrating geese and ducks since the facility opened. Lately, though, the wild birds have begun to stay around all year.
The problem, VanMatre explained, has become progressively worse. However, because most of the birds are protected, they must not be harmed. Another way of getting rid of them had to be found.
Using dogs to discourage ducks and geese from getting too comfortable is not an original idea. Golf courses have found that the herding nature of Border Collies makes them the perfect answer to the messy problem.
Candy Bowerman is in charge of training Birdie. Using a handful of baby ducks, the two-month old puppy is already learning how to herd birds. She is also learning the qualities of being friendly to golfers. Bowerman said she wanted to train Birdie in the fine art of public relations. When fully trained, the dog will have learned to greet golfers on the fairways like a politician ... shaking hands with everyone she meets.
The training is expected to be far enough along for the black and white dog to be on the job by fall. Gently herding the birds off the fairways and greens, back into the ponds ... maybe making them feel unwelcome enough so they continue on to some place beyond the golf course.