Gracie the ‘bark ranger’ at Glacier National Park is the newest partner in the battle to limit negative interactions between humans and wildlife.
You might think that a 2-year-old Border Collie with lots of ambition might be on a ranch herding sheep. Gracie, on the other hand, is a new partner in the fight to limit and even stop interactions between park visitors and the wildlife that call the area home.
While this screenshot was taken from Yellowstone National Park, you can see the dangers in question:
To that end, Gracie and her handler, Ranger Mark Biel, have begun in earnest the effort to avoid such problems in the future. Timothy Rains, a spokesman for the famous park, said, “She’s there to help keep the wildlife wild. There’s just something about the dog that makes it easy.”
Rains added, “[The park animals] don’t think she’s a dog; they think she’s a wolf.” Certainly, park officials don’t want to keep visitors from seeing the animals; they just want to see that no one gets injured doing so.
That’s where Gracie comes in.
Gracie is doing two ‘herding’ shifts per week right now, in an effort to keep the wildlife from getting used to her presence. Already in the Logan Pass area, animals are showing signs of staying away from parking and visitor areas.
In addition to keeping human and animal interactions at a minimum, her handlers are finding another key to her partnership: education. “No one wants to talk to me, but if they see her they come up and pet her, then I’ve got you,” said Biel.
So we can come up and pet Gracie? Well, after you see those sweet eyes, and her mottled nose, you won’t have any choice! Just know that you may walk away with more knowledge than when you arrived, and that’s good for everyone.