At the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, birds have proven to be a constant nuisance and danger to the large planes that come and go. One bird can not only inflict significant damage on a plane, but also pose a serious danger to the crew. Last year, there were 64 bird strikes. The Air Force has air cannons meant to frighten the birds away, but they become too predictable and lose their effectiveness. That’s when they turned to a low-tech (and four-legged) solution.
Sonic, a nine-year-old Border Collie rescue, was called up to duty. With the help of her human partner, Lindsey, Sonic keeps the runways clear. Together, they patrol all 5,757 acres of the base, on foot, by car and even by canoe. When a flock is spotted, Sonic takes off and chases the birds away. Lindsey has a whistle to direct Sonic, but it’s rarely needed. Sonic’s instincts take over. She rarely catches a bird, but simply scares them away. Plus, since dogs are a natural predator to birds, it means the flocks are less likely to return to the base.
A Major at the base explained, “Sonic keeps me and all the other pilots safe when we go fly on a daily basis.” The workdays are long – sunrise to sunset, five days a week – but Sonic’s enthusiasm never wavers. “She loves chasing birds,” Lindsey said. “She’s very passionate about it. This is her play.”
Be sure to check out the video below to see Sonic in action!