Working dogs are amazing for us humans, but can also be very useful for protecting the wildlife. Check out these 5 ways how dogs help us with the conservation of species.
Scat is very important for biologists studying elusive, sensitive or endangered species, because a lot of information can be sussed from animals’ poop, including diet, health, pregnancy and genetics. The sniffing power of dogs is ideal to help scientists, they helped in Africa to determine the amount of cheetahs living in a particular area based on sniffing cheetah poop. These dogs are trained to smell poop of dozens of species, from wolves to moose, but also scat of orcas floating on the ocean surface without bothering the wildlife while being studied.
Dogs have a very strong sense of smell, which can be put to work to search in nature for what shouldn’t be there and help us humans to act upon it. Dogs can for example sniff out invasive species like giant snails or detecting disease in beehives. They can also sniff for particular plant species that can endanger native plants and help scientists in detecting & remove them before they take over the area.
Wildlife detector dogs are trained to sniff out smuggled products such as tiger parts, ivory, rosewood etc. to detect them in shipping ports, border crossings and other locations. Trained dogs can also lead rangers to armed poachers in the wild, by tracking down the culprits over long hours through heat and rain. They can catch poachers in the act, rather than just the products.
Livestock protection dogs are trained to protect endangered species such as cheetahs, lions and leopards by reducing conflict between ranger and big cats. Cheetah Conservation Fund has successfully implemented a livestock protection dog program in place, giving rangers a Anatolian shepherd or Kangal dogs, reducing conflict and therefore reducing the killings of both livestock and endangered species like the cheetah in this case. Sometimes the dogs are put to work guarding the endangered species themselves. One such successful program uses Maremma shepherd dogs to protect colonies of little penguins from foxes.
Karelian bear dogs are trained to keep bears from becoming too comfortable around people. Karelian bear dogs is a specialized breed of hunting dogs, which can scare bears away and prohibit them from becoming habituated. When bears become habituated they either have to be relocated, euthanized or at times are killed by humans. These are only a few examples of how dogs can help us protect our environment. We keep on finding new ways and dogs are proving they are ready for it!
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