‘Ellie’ the Border Collie is getting more than just a treat for her work with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The system of locks and dams on the McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System support an industry that contributes $4.3-billion to Oklahoma’s economy.
If those locks go down for maintenance, millions of dollars could be lost if traffic can’t get to port.
Part of the corps maintenance plan is keeping thousands of birds off the spillways and locks.
When the birds go to the bathroom, it does more than just cause a mess, it causes thousands of dollars in damage to heavy equipment.
“I was a little skeptical at first. i thought there was logic in the proposal. I had to see it to believe it. once we got her on board. the effectiveness, it was mind blowing,” said Jeremy Philpot, Ellie’s handler,”
The proposal, bring in Ellie.
“The birds don’t know when she’s coming, where’s she at or anything. So when she comes out she goes after them, they realize this place is no longer safe,” said Philpot.
They use Ellie instead of decoys, netting or spikes and it works.
“Come January, February when the weather gets cold and they’re trying to really stay out of the water and conserve energy, you can almost run her every hour,”
After two years of successfully keeping the birds away and saving the taxpayers $30,000 a year in upkeep and cleaning, Elie and her handler Jeremy Philpot received a huge commendation from the commander of the Tulsa District.
“It was pretty awesome getting that award. very gratifying. Pretty neat,”
The corps said the program with Ellie has been successful, other districts have requested the Border Collie’s instance with nesting birds.
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