Dogs Defend Beaches from Geese Droppings

From April through October, geese patrol dogs are the only ones allowed on beaches near Lake Tahoe, Nev.

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If you visit the beaches in Incline Valley, Nev., on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, between April and October, you'll see only eight dogs frolicking there.

Those dogs, which wear bright orange vests, are patrol canines guarding the beach from Canada Geese, frightening away any of the birds that venture too near protected areas.

An adult Canada goose can account for up to three pounds of feces in a day, and Tahoe's Nevada side alone is home to roughly 1,000 Canada Geese which nest in the basin. Keeping them off Incline's beaches has been a constant battle.

Steven Phillips, the Incline Village General Improvement Districts superintendent of parks and recreation, said that without the dog patrol, the IVGID staff would spend countless hours cleaning up geese feces and working to repair the damage geese cause to the grass.

There are no set hours for the patrols, Phillips said, and the owners who participate with their canines are all volunteers.

They're able to go down whenever they're available. We ask that they go early in the morning and late in the evening, Phillips said.

In a single year before the dog patrols started, the IVGID rounded up 137 geese, tagged them, and released them in other areas, Phillips said, which took a lot of money and manpower.

But since the dog program, we don't need to do that. We've used other means to keep the birds away, but the dog program works the best, he said.

Posted: April 18, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

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