CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia International Yeager Airport is celebrating its beloved Wildlife Patrol Dog’s 7th birthday, as well as welcoming in a new pooch to learn the ropes of runway-guarding.

After starting his career as the Wildlife Patrol Dog at CRW in 2018 when he was just one and half years old, a birthday party was held for Hercules on March 27 at the Kanawha County Public Library branch in Charleston.

Yeager Airport Director and CEO Dominque Ranieri told MetroNews that library staff as well as the community love Hercules and wanted to take part in celebrating him.

Dominique Ranieri

“He is 7 years old which is a huge deal, we’re so excited,” Ranieri said. “The Kanawha County Library does a great job with getting Hercules out into the community, especially with the younger community, so we love the opportunity to be able to celebrate him with them.”

However, since Hercules is now 7, Ranieri said they have to start planning for what’s next in their wildlife control program.

In doing so, Ranieri said they just welcomed another Border Collie to join the team. And she said he’s so new they don’t even have a name for him yet, but they are currently working on coming up with one.

Meanwhile, the new Border Collie is getting acclimated and receiving training for his soon-to-be role of deterring wildlife off of the runway.

Ranieri said Hercules will take in the new pup as his wingman so he can learn everything the job entails.

“He will work with Hercules on the airfield, learn from Hercules exactly what needs to be done in keeping all of the wildlife away from the aircraft, and as Hercules transitions to just doing his marketing roles, the new Border Collie will take on the bulk of the runway work,” she said.

She said since Hercules has been serving at the airport, the wildlife population on the airfield has dropped immensely, from birds to rabbits, and even the coyotes that prey on those animals have all backed off of the airfield and the surrounding area.

Ranieri said wildlife patrol is an important task at the airport.

“It has improved our wildlife control program so much over the years since Hercules has joined us, we know it’s effective, we know that it works for the different species we face here on our fields,” she said.

She said the wildlife patrol dog allows for the aircraft to land safely and without interruptions.

Ranieri said CRW will introduce the soon-to-be Wildlife Patrol Dog to the community soon after he gets acclimated at the airport.