Augie, a 2 & ½ year-old male border collie, has recently arrived at New Paltz. Augie’s purpose is to herd the migrating Canadian Geese away and off of the campus grounds with help from new owner Mike Malloy, Director of Environmental Health & Safety.
The benefit is that the campus will no longer spend funds on removing geese droppings from athletic fields, sidewalks, and grounds. The geese droppings are not simply unpleasant but also may contain bacteria harmful to humans. Over time the ponds on campus will see a reduction in algae growth and become a better environment for fish.
Augie arrived after all of the campus geese were transported to Wings of Hope, a domestic waterfowl rescue in Delaware, on Jan. 14, 2011. Malloy arranged the adoption of the 25 geese with the help of Wildlife Watch, Inc. of New Paltz.
Augie’s initial cost, $5,500, came from the campus maintenance and repair reserve funds. Food expenses will be paid by the Environmental Health & Safety department budget; these costs will be quickly recovered by the savings resulting from discontinued clean-up expenses that were once spent on the removal of goose feces from the college’s grounds and property.
Medical expenses and care have been donated by Dr. Michael J. Halstead, owner of the Lake Katrine Animal Hospital.
Border collies are known for their intelligence, energy, and herding ability. Augie was a competition sheep-herding dog before he was retrained to herd geese by the Big Bend Farm & Kennel, in Virginia.
Since there are currently no geese to herd, Augie is settling into his new home with Malloy and being introduced to the student community.
Malloy has also taken the responsibility of reinforcing Augie’s training to just herd geese and not resident ducks. As a part of the effort to keep geese from settling, student artists will create wooden ‘dog silhouettes’ to be placed all over campus. Augie will begin his responsibilities in early April, or when wild geese begin to migrate back to New Paltz.