frosty deal for runway Birds

The South African Air Force has employed a dog to chase birds off the runway at its Swartkop base in Pretoria.

The South African Air Force has employed a dog to chase birds off the runway at its Swartkop base in Pretoria.

An 18-month-old Border Collie named Frost was chosen for the job after measures such as moving the grass, using mirrors and a trained falcon failed to prevent birds from striking planes, Captain Mariska Vogel told journalists in Pretoria yesterday.

"The dog will chase birds and not kill them," she said.

Dog trainer Andrew Philip said a Border Collie was chosen because they were obedient, easy to train, had a natural herding instinct and were willing to work under differing conditions.

"The dog has been trained to chase birds and can put its paw on a bird without biting it," Philip said.

"Frost understands basic commands such as yield, go, stop, return and chase.

"Obedience plays a role , so the handler and dog must bond as a team,"

Frost's handler, Solomon Molefe, who has worked with dogs for eight years, said he and Frost were "bonding".

"I like to work with dogs and it was easy to form a team with Frost." Philip said.

Vogel said Frost was given the job since previous measures, including changing the birds' habitat or using a predator to kill them, had failed. Even when the grass was mowed to 30cm, species such as guinea fowl refused to budge.

The mirrors installed at Langebaanweg Air Force base also proved to be a dud since birds got used to them.

The fussy falcon only bonded with one person, took at least four years to train and then refused to be retrained when the handler left. - Sapa

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