The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a solution to a bird problem at the Robert S. Kerr Lock and Dam near Sallisaw. It's a border collie.
The Corps is using Ellie to scare away the birds. The birds were leaving behind a problem that was costing the Corps thousands of dollars every year.
Jeremy Philpot with the Corps told KFSM, the CBS affiliate in Fort Smith, thousands of birds, mainly double-crested cormorants and ring-billed gulls, used to flock to the lock and dam.
“You couldn't even see concrete. I mean it was just all birds. Birds on top of the canopies, birds on the equipment, birds on the railing, birds on the walkway, birds on the piers -- just everywhere,” said Jeremy Philpot.
The birds left behind a costly mess.
The Tulsa District of the Corps of Engineers estimates $10,000 worth of damage is done each year, because of metal corrosion, and ammonia seeping into the concrete. Last year alone, $27,000 was spent on labor to clean it all up.
Philpot is Ellie’s handler and said even though they just started working with her last October, she’s making a difference.
“Last year we had an estimated 11,000 pounds of bird droppings on our spillway, and this year there's just a few speckles out there,” Philpot said.
“You mention birds and she'll perk her ears up and start looking. She knows what that word means.”
Ellie lives at the lock and dam.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Ellie cost $3,500 and they say the Robert S. Kerr Lock and Dam is the first within the Corps to purchase a dog for a problem with birds.