By Meredith Carey. Photos: Courtesy of Instagram/@barkrangernps.
Meet Gracie, the border collie National
Park Bark Service Ranger. We'll give you a second to get over how cute she is. Done? Okay, we'll explain.
While Yellowstone may have to constantly warn tourists not to approach bison, Glacier National Park has a different problem: goats. While they may seem like great companions for a selfie (reminder, these are wild animals), the goats have pretty sharp horns that can cause serious damage. So Gracie the border collie uses her natural-born herding skills to shoo goats, deer, and sheep away from high-traffic areas, in order to keep humans and other animals safe. See more photos on Instagram here.
“She’s there to help keep the wildlife wild,” Timothy Rains, a spokesman for the Montana park, told The Huffington Post last year.
Hired last May as part of a Glacier National Park canine pilot program, Gracie was educated at the Wind River Bear Institute in Montana, which trains dogs to herd bears (yes, grizzly bears). Now, the three-year-old, owned by the park's national resources program manager, works around the park, and specifically Logan's Pass, clad in a vest and harness to show she's a wildlife service animal. In fact, Gracie is so good at her job that she was awarded a Partners Choice Award by the Public Lands Alliance for outstanding public engagement, which recognizes programs that enhance visitors experiences on public lands like national parks.
Gracie is far from the only pup helping national parks keep their animals and visitors safe. In 2015, the Park Service deployed border collies to keep geese off the Lincoln Memorial and D.C. National Mall. Denali National Park uses sled dogs to reach remote corners of the park that vehicles can't get to. Ski patrols across the U.S. and Europe also use rescue dogs to find buried avalanche survivors.
If you can't make it up north to a national park this summer, look for one closer to home and take advantage of the eight remaining days of free entry around the country. Or just wait until the Denali National Park's puppy cam is back online in early summer to see how our canine friends have grown.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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