'Crap' Problem on the National Mall: Park Service Turns to Border Collies to Herd Geese

PHOTO: A man photographs geese in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 20, 2013.Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
A man photographs geese in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Aug. 20, 2013.

Spring in Washington, D.C. means cherry blossoms and hordes of tourists flocking to the National Mall.

And with peak season right around the corner, the National Park Service is dealing with a “crappy” problem as well.

Large swaths of the National Mall are covered in feces, courtesy of the very large population of Canada Goose that make their home on the picturesque grounds.

The National Park Service says that biologists estimate just one goose produces as much as "2-3 pounds" of waste per day.

“Over time, you can see the issue we’re confronted with on our walkways and our memorials. It’s really more than just a nuisance,” said Mike Litterst of the National Park Service.

It’s not just disgusting for the folks who step in it. The geese waste may be causing major damage to the infrastructure on the National Mall, including the famous Reflecting Pool that runs between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.

“The presence of geese is leading to the degradation of the [Reflecting] pool water due to defecation in and on walkway near the [Reflecting] pool,” the Park Service said.

The Park Service announced it has launched a new program that it calls “goose harassment services” -- and it could be a very clever solution to a really crappy situation. Cue the Collies -- the Park Service wants to use border collies to fix the goose problem.

These dogs are bred to herd sheep so the Park Service's goal is to have them do the same with the geese, forcing them into different areas to do their business and enabling park officials to clean up the mess and maintain some spots as “geese free.”

“They’ll be doing what herd animals do – nudging the geese, making them uncomfortable in their surroundings,” Litterst said. “Eventually the geese will learn to settle elsewhere.”

This is not a job for rookies. The Park Service says that dog handlers must have five years of experience with Canada Goose harassment with dogs in order to take part.

“We appreciate the offers but these are trained dogs who won’t harass or harm the geese,” Litterst said.

Wildlife on federal lands is not a new issue for the Park Service, which oversees 23 national parks just within the District of Columbia.

In 2012 it launched a project to cull the exploding population of white-tailed deer in the Washington’s Rock Creek Park. Sharpshooters were used to hunt the deer and the meat was later donated to local soup kitchens.

But don’t worry –- the geese on the Mall will be kept safe.

The National Park Service specifically says in its contract: “No water fowl or other living creature shall be killed, harmed or injured in any way.”

This isn’t the first time Washington DC has seen a creative In the summer of 2013, several dozen goats were unleased at the Historic Congressional Cemetery, hired to eat up more than an acre of overgrowth on the property.

Trees at the 208-year old cemetery along DC’s Anacostia River were weighed down by invasive ivy and weeds and cemetery organizers were concerned that they would eventually die, break or fall and damage headstones.

So they turned to Eco-Goats, a Maryland farm that rents out its goats for ecologically sustainable grazing.

The goats were put to work for 24 hours a day for a straight week.

ABC News’ Chris Good contributed to this report.