Earth Day Spotlight: Working Dogs for Conservation

Wicket, an eight year-old black lab-cross wearing a red vest emblazoned with the words “Search Dog”, came to a sudden stop at the base of a thick willow tree, turning and sitting in one swift motion, and awaited her reward of a tennis ball for a successful detection.

“Instead of using dogs to find narcotics, lets use them to find poop,” Alice Whitelaw of Working Dogs for Conservation, said.

Only one in 1,000 dogs have what it takes to become a detection dog. The Three Forks Mont.-based research group uses dogs to search for everything from invasive species to noxious weeds to rare animal scat to illegal snares used by poachers in Africa.

Five Montana wildlife biologists came together in 2000 with a new idea to respond to a growing demand for non-invasive ways to do research.

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