Conservation Detection Dogs – Saving Endangered Species
There are currently 3079 animals worldwide that are considered endangered species. Conservation detection dogs can be an asset to biologists worldwide who work diligently to create programs to study and save these endangered species. Without the benefit of conservation detection dogs, working to survey and save these animals can be challenging, time consuming, and very expensive.
Highland Canine Training, LLC recently trained a conservation detection dog, the first detection dog to locate guano from the Indiana Bat. The Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) is a medium-sized, mouse-eared bat native to North America. It lives primarily in eastern and midwestern states and in parts of the south of the United States. The Indiana bat is gray, black, or chestnut in color.
A yellow Labrador, Otis, was specifically tested and selected for this special work. The training for Otis took approximately 16 weeks and took place primarily in the woods at our facility in Harmony, NC where students of our School for Dog Trainers were able to assist in the training. Students of our detection dog training courses often have the opportunity to work with a variety of detection dogs to learn how to properly, test, select, train and handle these dogs.
The dog had to be trained to locate the odor of guano from the Indiana Bat and ignore the odor of guano from other bat species, such as the long-eared bat, grey bat and little brown bat. During the intensive course, Otis was taught to search for, locate, and indicate on guano hidden on the ground or high up in trees. Students from our course learned how to properly imprint the dog so that the dog’s association with the correct guano odor was familiar to him. Next, they began the process of teaching him to search for and locate the odor in order to receive his reward. Finally, students learned how to teach the dog to work with a variety of detection problems, such as hides planted 18 feet or more in trees, and indicate on the odor.
Why would conservation detection dogs be trained to find scat? Scat or feces is the most ample and accessible wildlife product found in nature and it contains a massive amount of genetic, physiological, and dietary information about an animal that can be tied to environmental change. Guano is the feces of bats and is one of the most readily available items to use for survey purposes.
Otis was purchased and will be handled by Aquatic Resources Management of Lexington, Kentucky. He will be used to locate and survey Indiana bats in areas where coal mines and wind farms are to be located prior to permitting. This will ensure the safety of the habitat of this endangered species. Otis will also be able to eliminate false positives that previously stood in the way of this type of work. This conservation detection dog team will definitely be able to make a difference by both saving bats and saving jobs in the southeastern United States.
To learn more about this exciting field of detection or other types of detection or canine work, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 866.200.2207. We look forward to hearing from you today!