Xingjiang – Police in rural parts of China’s Xingjiang Province have replaced the use of guard dogs. Instead, they are using flocks of geese to warn them if there is an intruder.
How effective is using a flock of geese instead of guard dogs? In a recent report in June, one gaggle of police geese reportedly managed to snare a man who had broken into the local police headquarters to take a motorbike, the People’s Daily reported. After drugging two police dogs and climbing over the wall, the man was about to make his getaway when he came face-to-face with some 20 feathered “gatekeepers.” The geese fanned their wings and began shrieking when they saw the stranger causing the security guard on duty to wake up and bag the burglar.
Mr. Zhang, the local police chief, says “In some ways, they are more useful than dogs. A household normally keeps one dog [but] an intruder can throw a drugged bun to kill the dog. Geese are normally kept in groups and they have poor eyesight at night making it very difficult for intruders to [poison them].”
National Geographic spoke with Patrick Cumins, director of bird conservation at Audobon Connecticut, to acquire more information about just how effectively a geese can function as a security guard dog.
Cumins says that birds have amazing hearing and in the day time they have amazing eyesight. Human eyes have three different color sensors that combine to build the picture in our brain. Birds have a fourth, ultraviolet. They have a much wider range of wavelengths which allows them to see things more sharply and can also pick out smaller things as well as tiny movements.
Geese are also very territorial and seem to recognize the policemen and security guards as part of their flock. The downside to this though would be that if a burglar dresses like a policeman, the geese would probably not be able to differentiated a real policeman from a fake policeman.
Cumins also adds that you can give some steak to a dog and have them be a little distracted. It is hard to give geese something that is going to distract them enough where they wouldn’t make a noise. Food causes the geese go nuts and is hard to quite them down afterwards.
Xinjiang is one of China’s most volatile regions. In recent years the province has suffered repeated outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uighurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking group who make-up nearly half of the province’s 22 million population. In the wake of the latest round of violence, units of heavily armed police have reportedly flooded parts of Xinjiang and the province’s geese officers have not been tasked with confronting simmering ethnic tensions.