As local communities shorten the leash on dogs at the beach, they should consider an exception for the border collie. When properly trained, the canine world's most intelligent breed has already proven his ability to assist in beachfront management.

An experiment with the sharp-witted dog, originally bred for herding sheep, has demonstrated that the collies can help limit the presence of seagulls on the shores of the Great Lakes. The birds are bothersome to beachgoers and have proven to be a public health menace; for example, their droppings are a source of E. coli, which causes digestive distress among swimmers.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, state officials haven't been able to order a kill-off because the lakeside gulls are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. But being harassed by border collies apparently isn't forbidden by law.

Recent research has proven the dogs effective in that role - and has shown a diminished level of biological contamination along the shore.

The two dogs chosen to demonstrate the potential for border collies in the anti-gull campaign came with a resume, having been used by the Air Force to keep geese off runways, the Times reported.

Clearly the border collie is adaptable to circumstances. So if local beaches don't require gull control, there are myriad other possibilities.

Maybe Folly Beach could use them to keep those drunken summer revelers in check. The Isle of Palms might give them parking enforcement duties. Sullivan's Island officials could use them to flush out the coyotes that have become the latest unwanted visitors to the island.

And environmentalists could teach them to nip at the heels of those who would attempt to erect ill-advised seawalls along our eroding beaches.