These trained dogs can uncover what wildlife biologists can't easily see or find. They have had great success in finding rare species throughout the world. They don't track like a bloodhound. They are trained to find things like scat of a particular species in the wild.
These dogs can help answer questions that scientists want to know about endangered species like how many of a particular species there are, where they are located and whether the population is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same. DNA can be obtained from the scat samples, and from the DNA results, they can determine what the animal has been eating. These trained dogs can detect weeds before they break the ground's surface, animals that live below ground, and aquatic organisms a foot or so under a creek that are invisible to the human eye.
One example of their amazing ability is that these trained dogs found an invasive snail in Hawaii that was eating the native snails. They could find these little snails, which are only about an inch or two long, hidden in leaf litter.They are also good at picking up something that doesn't have much odor. In California, research was being done on the kit fox, an endangered species that is tiny and nocturnal. There were five other carnivores out in the same area as the kit fox. People can't tell the difference in the scat of these species. But these trained dogs could find the correct scat. They were 100% accurate on picking up just the kit fox scat and not the scat of other carnivores.
In China, black bears were eating corn from the corn fields. Scientists wanted to know whether this was from one individual or from a lot of bears in the region. From the scat that these dogs found, this could be determined. When scientists were working with snow leopards in Asia, of the scats that were collected, only about 3 out of 100 were from snow leopards, whereas these dogs were 100% accurate.
Also, these specially trained dogs have sniffed out dwindling populations of cheetahs in Africa, dwindling populations of flightless kiwis and kakapos in New Zealand, and they have sniffed out threatened desert tortoises in the U.S. and Mexico. One trained dog is even sailing the eastern North Pacific Ocean in search of orcas.
What a wonderful service these dogs are doing for conservation! They do it for the love of their toy! #conservation #workingdog #dog