Cary News

May 12, 2014

Triangle becomes jurisdiction of Geese Police

Tammi Proffitt and Joyce Wilson recently moved to Apex and opened a branch of Geese Police, a New Jersey-based company that trains Border Collies to herd Canada geese off clients’ properties.

They jaywalk. They trespass. And perhaps worst of all, they poop in public places.

But these violators are protected by federal law, and it’s hard to move them from their favorite loitering spots without hurting them.

That’s where the Geese Police come in.

Tammi Proffitt and Joyce Wilson recently moved to Apex and opened a branch of the New Jersey-based company, which trains Border Collies to herd Canada geese off clients’ properties.

The duo has more experience in loving animals than in law enforcement or land management.

Proffitt, 42, is a former vet technician. Wilson, 53, used to work in the food industry but owned Collie dogs for years.

They were looking to move to North Carolina, and they needed a job opportunity.

It came about a year ago when they heard about Geese Police and the Triangle’s reputation for having goose problems.

At least two other companies – Goose Masters and Goose Busters – run similar businesses in the Triangle.

But “there’s more than enough (geese) to go around,” Proffitt said.

It’s unclear how many geese reside in the Triangle. Geese Police estimates that 180,000 live in North Carolina and that the number is increasing 15 percent to 20 percent each year.

Raleigh, Durham and western Wake County are especially popular nesting areas for geese because of the amount of development, Proffitt and Wilson said.

“By building these little ponds as part of these neighborhoods, parks, schools, office parks ... you’re creating a habitat for them while driving out their predators,” Wilson said.

With no real threats, geese move about as they please.

A few years ago, the issue prompted Cary to put up caution signs urging motorists to watch out for animals on busy streets such as High House Road, Regency Parkway and West Chatham Street.

Scott Hecht, Cary’s public works director, said he often gets calls from residents and property managers asking about ways to get rid of geese.

The public basically has two options: Call the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is allowed to kill the birds under certain circumstances, or call a company like Geese Police to chase them off.

Cary contracts with the USDA.

“We’ve got droppings on our greenways that we’re always trying to keep clean,” Hecht said.

Proffitt can talk all day about the diseases in goose droppings and how it ruins nice areas that are meant to be enjoyed by the public.

“I never wear my shoes in the house,” she said.

Regardless of the nuisance, Proffitt and Wilson say they never touch or harm the geese. In fact, they admire them.

“They’re smarter than people think,” Wilson said. “They keep the same mate for life, and are really protective of their goslings.”

The dogs used by Geese Police don’t touch or harm the birds – they scare them away several times a day over several weeks until the geese don’t come back.

Proffitt and Wilson noted that the company’s methods are supported by the USDA Wildlife Services, the Humane Society and PETA.

“There’s a misconception out there that the dogs are aggressive and are endangering the geese,” Proffitt said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The women do, however, keep tiny goose handcuffs on their keychains.

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