CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Getting rid of the geese that are posing a potential safety hazard to planes landing at Yeager Airport could take some dogged effort.
Between 250 and 300 of the birds have taken up residence at Coonskin Park, directly in the flight path of about 80 percent of the aircraft that land at Yeager Airport. A flock of geese brought down a US Airways flight trying to land at LaGuardia International Airport in 2009 during an incident known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Assistant Yeager Airport Director Tim Murnahan told members of the Yeager Airport board at a regular meeting Wednesday that officials for the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working on a plan to "interdict" the geese at Coonskin.
Murnahan conceded that, in respect to geese, "interdict" might really mean "shoot." But airport board members have an alternate idea.
Airport officials said they would recommend the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission instead get a border collie to scare off geese at Coonskin Park.
Retired state Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett, a member of the airport board who also sits on the parks commission, said he has experience with border collies at the National Guard's Camp Dawson training facility in Preston County.
"We had a real problem with geese at Camp Dawson," Tackett said. "We bought a border collie. He didn't kill them, he just aggravated them so much they went somewhere else."
Airport Director Rick Atkinson said a border collie also worked to scare geese off Big Bend Golf Course when Atkinson was county parks director.
Current Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said he has experience using border collies to control geese. But he said the proposal has drawbacks.
"I've used border collies," Hutchinson said. "They cost $5,000 and they're trained to run geese."
But he said that might not be the best idea if airport officials want to keep the birds out of the way of airplanes landing and taking off.
"You know what geese do when [dogs] run them?" Hutchinson asked. "They fly."