Gracie is a Border Collie with a very unusual dog. She keeps wildlife and humans a safe distance from each other at Glacier National Park. She also helps deter predator/human encounters!
Nicknamed the “Bark Ranger”, Gracie can been seen at work on her Instagram page where National Park Services (NPS) regularly shares videos of her in action. “Gracie’s main job at Logan Pass is to keep bighorn sheep out of the parking lot,” NPS writes of the Wildlife Working Dog.
Recently, a “bachelor group” of five rams was hanging out just outside the parking lot’s east wall. “Gracie’s task was to ensure they stayed on the outside of that wall,” NPS writes. “With Ranger Mark’s guidance, she held them there for about two hours. They do this by applying pressure to the rams— first simply by being present and applying the ‘border collie stare.’ If that doesn’t deter them, then Mark will have Gracie slowly approach (she works on a long leash).”
You can see both techniques the pair employ in the video below. “The goal is to keep them at least 25 yards from the parking lot—the same distance visitors are required to keep between themselves and wildlife at Glacier (100 yards for wolves and bears),” NPS says.
Gracie works throughout the year with Mark. She also works to “herd” deer away from a bike trail. They move deer out of developed areas in the winter because it helps reduce the “chances of human encounters with mountain lions, which come in to prey on the deer.”
“We stopped, they stopped, and we both looked at each other. We then started our slow approach and they eventually ran away through the woods, across the entrance road, and into the woods beyond,” said Ranger Mark.” When Gracie returns to Ranger Mark she gets a reward.
Gracie was on hiatus for a while because of COVID and then extreme heat over the past few summers, but she is back on patrol now. When they aren’t moving sheep, they often help visitors spot the wildlife. Ranger Mark writes, We didn’t have to move any sheep but we did help people to spot where a group of about 12 rams were hanging out on the hillside across the road — and we talked with plenty of nice people about how to stay safe around park wildlife.” A job well done, Bark Ranger Gracie!
Bark Ranger Gracie isn’t the only Wildlife Working Dog or Wildlife Service Dog. In this video, Mishka, who is trained to help with bears, comforts an orphaned fawn.