North Carolina dogs ship to Hawaii to help herd protected birds

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Watching a day of training at the small farm in Franklinville can be exhausting.

“Come by. Come by,” said Gwen Kuykendall, co-owner of Goose Masters.

She is currently training Rowdy, a border collie, to corral his less than enthusiastic goat training partners.

Rowdy spends his days working in these fields to prepare for what will be the assignment of a lifetime. In a few months he will fly to Hawaii to live and work on the island of Kauai.

“We kind of handpicked the dogs for them,” said Kent Kuykendall, the other co-owner.

The Kuykendalls have been training border collies like Rowdy for decades. They started the company as a way to use dogs to humanely deal with issues with Canadian Geese. If you have ever been around Canadian Geese you know the amount of waste they can leave behind. The waste can cause health problems and kill grass.

They can also be a nuisance near airports where they put themselves and passengers in danger if they fly in the path of planes.

Goose Masters has locations serving the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte areas. They are also in South Carolina and Florida.

Rowdy

“The border collie is the best breed. They are quiet they are maneuverable you can direct them to be very precise in the direction they put birds up,” said Kent Kuykendall.

The years of experience training these dogs to handle birds is what attracted the US Department of Agriculture to the Kuykendalls to address a problem they were seeing in Hawaii.

Nene birds, which are federally protected, were gathering at a resort in Kauai right next to an airport, putting the birds and people in danger.

“They sent two handlers over, we worked them here with the dogs and then we were flown to work the resort,” said Gwen Kuykendall.

Quinn and Quade were the first two dogs to ship out. They have been working in Hawaii for several months now.

“We couldn’t put the birds up into the aircraft so, yeah, it was a very delicate and nerve wracking few weeks,” said Gwen Kuykendall.

The dogs have been a success. The resort saw a 90% reduction in Nene sightings in the first three weeks. The birds are now away from dangerous runways and tourists and are settling in safer areas.

“They were expecting three years and in three weeks we had the Nene off the resort,” Gwen Kuykendall said.

Rowdy will join his kennel mates soon and will continue the mission miles and miles from where he started. It’s quite an honor for a little farm in North Carolina and three very good boys.

“I keep thinking this is a dream,” Gwen Kuykendall said.

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