Making The Rounds With Glacier Park's New 'Bark Ranger'

Aug 30, 2016

A few weeks ago, we brought you the story of Glacier National Park’s newest “bark ranger,” Gracie. Gracie the border collie has been working at Logan Pass this summer to help manage human interactions with wildlife. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet tagged along on one of Gracie’s morning rounds.

Gracie and her handler, Mark Biel, draw quite a crowd at the parking lot at Logan Pass.

Gracie’s job is to help keep humans a safe distance away from wildlife like bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Goats especially have taken to hanging out in the parking lot at Logan Pass, where they lick up antifreeze and other snacks left behind by tourists.

Biel, a wildlife resource manager for the park, says using Gracie to herd out wildlife is just one strategy the park uses.

"We don't want to use her every day because we don't want them to get too used to seeing her, so the rangers or other park staff will come in and try other methods to haze them out."

So far, Biel says Gracie is doing a good job. They visit Logan Pass once or twice a week in the early morning or at dusk, and Gracie slowly herds the animals out of the parking lot to a field across the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s more effective than other strategies Biel’s tried, like using sirens or waving his arms.

"Using Gracie, if they move 50 yards away and stay away for two hours that's better than if you wave a bag at them and they only move 10 yards away and follow you into the parking lot and 10 minutes they’re back in."

Biel and Gracie spend the rest of their shift talking to park visitors about safely viewing wildlife.

Gracie’s Bark Ranger position is a pilot program funded by the Glacier National Park Conservancy. Biel hopes to expand the program next year based on Gracie’s success this season.