BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - On a brisk Wednesday morning, Mike Cardella gives commands to his 12-year-old border collie named Pedro.
“Pedro here, walk up, walk up, walk up, ok, lie down," says Cardella. “He is confused today by my commands because he has nothing to do.”
Pedro’s inactivity is a good thing for the folks behind Goose Masters who have one company goal: to humanely shoo away Canada geese.
“Geese are a huge problem in southeastern North Carolina and they are federally protected so you can’t harm them but people love to feed them, and feeding them brings more in and that’s the problem,” said Tammi Proffitt with Goose Masters.
Pedro remedied one of those problems months ago at Virginia Williamson Elementary School in Bolivia, which is why he was a bit bored on Wednesday. Prior to Pedro’s arrival, 80 geese roamed the school grounds, but now the unwelcome visitors have taken to the skies.
“This particular school was one of the worst. When I came here, you could barely walk in the parking lot because of all the goose poop,” said Proffitt.
“You could barely step out of your car there was so much debris," added Helen Otto, principal at Williamson. "We had a huge concern for our students and staff.”
Mimicking a fox, a wolf or a predator, the border collies got to work at the school. The dogs are natural born herders trained to stalk the geese but not harm them.
“Border collies are the only dogs that have what we call the eye, which is a wolf-like glance and sometimes that’s all it takes," Proffitt said. “They are scared and they often don’t return.”
One of the biggest reasons to remove the geese from properties like schools is the threat of disease.
“Goose poop carries diseases like salmonella, E-coli, and giardia," Proffitt said. "Those things can make you extremely sick.”
While Goose Masters have trained their dogs to ward off the geese, they say the public can help by doing their part.
“Do not feed the geese. They have enough food to eat in the wild. They don’t need corn or seed or bread," Proffitt said. "That can actually kill them.”
While Goose Masters contracts with Brunswick County Schools, they hope to gain the business of neighboring New Hanover County Schools, which has an abundance of geese at Ashley High School where a goose allegedly died at the hands of a baseball player this summer.
WECT reached out to New Hanover County Schools to see if they are looking into the service for their properties.
A spokesperson for the school district released the following statement:
"New Hanover County Schools did reach out to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to assist with training for our athletic staffs regarding geese. They responded they would put us in touch with the appropriate people in their agency who handle training. This outreach occurred just before Hurricane Florence and the district has not received a final response from them. Now that the district’s major hurricane recovery efforts are completed, we will contact them again. The district plans to comply with any recommendations they make and provide training for our staff.
NHCS is open to engaging companies that deal with wildlife control but hasn’t done so yet. The district intends to obtain input from the state Wildlife officials first."