Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Glacier National Park Seeks to Reduce Human-Wildlife Interactions

The owner and manager of an Indiana-based dog breeding company, Dave Chupp oversees the breeding and care of Yorkies, Havaneses, French Bulldogs, and several other breeds. When not busy caring for his puppies, Dave Chupp travels to various national parks. Glacier National Park in Montana is among his favorites.

The country’s 10th national park, Glacier National Park has been drawing in visitors since the 1800s. Recently, the park implemented a new pilot program designed to reduce human-wildlife interactions at Logan Pass. Funded through the Glacier National Park Conservancy’s NPS Centennial year funding, the program involves using a trained herding dog to move animals a safe distance from areas that are highly populated by humans. Glacier National Park implemented the program due to recent increases in human-wildlife interactions, specifically between bighorn sheep and mountain goats at Logan Pass.

Prior to the new pilot project, employees at Glacier National Park moved animals away from parking lots by waving their arms, shouting, or moving vehicles. While the methods worked in the short term, the animals would eventually return. Both bighorn sheep and mountain goats fear predators, so the park hopes that using a herding dog will keep them away longer. Currently, the project is training one dog, a border collie named Gracie. She is being trained to not make any physical contact with the animals and will only be off a leash during herding activities, which are expected to take place three to four times a month.

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