Meet Piper, a 7-year-old border collie and K-9 wildlife manager at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan. He’s also very cool.
Piper came on as wildlife manager in January 2015, and works a full-time shift from 4 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
His handler and owner, Brian Edwards, has been working at the airport as the airport operations supervisor since 2008.
The airport attracts flocks of Canadian geese and water fowl, airport spokesperson Susan Wilcox Olson told BuzzFeed News. Snowy owls will also fly into the airport during the winter.
Edwards, who studied air traffic control in college, heard about a K-9 wildlife management program at Fort Meyers airport in Florida that employed a border collie to chase off wildlife.
“It was just a two-plus-two thing,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I work at an airport. I have a border collie. Let’s give it a shot.”
“To this day I can still teach him new things,” said Edwards. “I definitely don’t have the ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ problem with Piper.”
Edwards said he’s working with Piper on becoming accustomed to helicopters. He said he wants Piper to be prepared for any situation in case of an emergency.
The airport also uses more traditional techniques to manage wildlife, like removing food and water sources. It also has reflectors and noisemakers to scare away any birds or other animals.
“You can do all that for many years but then the wildlife becomes accustomed to it,” he said. “By adding Piper in, it’s another tool in the toolbox to manage that wildlife habitat without doing any lethal taking of an animal.”
Edwards and Piper’s wildlife K-9 team is completely voluntary. They are funded by donations through their website.
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