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Monday, September 17, 2012

Rescued dogs dedicate their life to helping the environment.

This is Max, one of 30 highly trained scat detection dogs who dedicate the most energetic years of their life to helping the environment. But to Max and the other members of Conservation Canines, work is play!

Max, like most all of the Conservation Canines, is a rescue dog. An Australian Cattle dog adopted at two years old from the Everett Animal Shelter, Max is trained to detect Wolverine, Northern Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, Grizzly bear, Black bear, American Pine Marten, Tiger, Leopard. 

Through the noses and efforts of this hard working group of dogs, finding and collecting scat allows monitoring of a wide variety of species worldwide and can provide a very reliable, widespread and more affordable monitoring system to help scientists analyze scat and determine a multitude of information from population decline, toxin levels and contamination, to migration, reproductive viability and more.

As human population grows and becomes more widespread it creates an ever-increasing demand on the environment. By monitoring the impact, behaviors and lives of a wide variety of species, a lot can be discovered about the lives of wild animals and help determine the best means of creating a more balance planet for all living things.

The Conservation Canines  program began in 1997 by Dr. Samuel Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology. With an idea, he called on Sgt. Barbara Davenport, master canine trainer with the Washington State Department of Corrections, to begin a program by expanding upon the training of narcotics detection dogs and teaching dogs to locate scat from threatened and endangered species. Now the Conservation  Canines  program works to monitor a wide variety of species throughout the world including tigers, orcas, fishers, spotted owls, bears, wolves, caribou, giant armadillos, giant anteaters, pumas, jaguars, and even Pacific pocket mice.

If you've ever had a dog with extreme levels of high energy and an insatiable work ethic, you'll understand how happy these dogs are to 'work.' Many of the dogs in the Conservation Canines  program are rescues or owner surrenders; relinquished because of their high energy and high drive which wasn't a good fit for their former home. Now these wonderful dogs have received  a new leash on life as a working dog. But these dogs think of their work as play! Each time they detect scat, whether during training or on working day, they are rewarded with one-on-one play time with their handlers.

This is Waylon, an owner surrender in 2010, who is  now working with a research project through Conservation Canines funded by Washington SeaGrant. Waylon's job is to locate the scat of Orca Killer Whales that can be analyzed for stress, nutrition, toxin levels and reproductive hormones to help in assessing the decline in the whales’ primary prey, Chinook salmon; the disturbance from private and commercial whale watching vessels; and exposure to high levels of toxins such as PCB, PBDE and DDT which are stored in the whales’ fat.

And here's Chester, adopted from the Seattle Humane in December 2008, who is trained to sniff out Wolverine, Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Bobcat. Last year Chester, along with fellow CK9 Scooby, helped Wisconsin with it's bobcat management program, by sniffing out scat to determine density and distribution.

Watch more about Conservation Canines and their good work in keeping our environment balanced:

And get a dog's eye view from Scooby of what it's like to sniff out scat.

Learn more about the efforts of Conservation Canines and the Center for Conservation Biology by visiting their website.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great post. I'm biased of course because I get to work Max and Chester and Scooby in the field but it's great to see your wonderful blog giving a shout out to our program. THANKS!!


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