Piper, a border collie, is not herding sheep, but has an important role keeping birds off the runways during all kinds of weather.
This seven year old collie is part of the FAA’s required Wildlife Hazard Management Plan for Traverse City Airport.
Brian Edwards, an operations supervisor at the airport, is also Piper’s handler, trainer, and owner.
“Working with Piper morphed itself into something bigger than I could have ever predicted,” said Edwards. “And in all this I consider myself so lucky, because I get to bring my best friend into work everyday and work in the field together. We get to do some problem-solving, and I get to watch Piper learn to think and act for himself.”
As part of the Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, Piper is aided by sirens, pyrotechnics, and other technologies to keep birds away from aircraft.
“For many, using K-9s for wildlife mitigation makes airports question whether or not they are getting their money’s worth. The training and maintenance of these dogs can be expensive—sometimes costing over $15,000,” Edwards explained. “Piper is unique because he is a volunteer. He is my dog, I trained him, and I bring him into work everyday. The Traverse City Airport doesn’t need to worry about housing, kenneling, or feeding a dog.”