Zoom Event: Detection Dog Teams and Avian Conservation

Thursday, March 23, 2023 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

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The Rogue Detection Teams is a conservation detection dog program based in Washington state, USA, with operations around the world. The detection dog team methodology is a growing tool utilized by a diverse array of wildlife managers to locate data on rare, cryptic, or endangered species and other odors. While dog teams are more commonly utilized to assist mammal research, detection dogs also sniff for marine wildlife, viruses in plants, invasive species, butterfly larvae, bumblebee nests, amphibian & reptiles, and even avian wildlife. We are excited to share with you today about how these special dogs, adopted from shelters, are lending a sniff for birds, finding everything from pellets from endangered owls & other raptors, storm petrel burrows, identifying safe flight corridors for eagles, to mortality events at wind facilities. Our rescue dogs work alongside their bounders, our name for our canine handlers. Our work is non-invasive, meaning we do not handle or collar the animals we seek data on. In this way, we are a resource for wildlife, shelter animals, and researchers who are looking to obtain data on rare or cryptic species in the wild.

Heath Smith, Instructor, Rogue Detection Teams

It is a commonly used idiom, “who rescued who” when discussing dogs and their people, but it is most true when looking at the relationship between Heath and his first canine partner, Gator. The team was paired when Heath first started conducting detection dog work in 2001, and though Heath was a self-proclaimed cat person, Gator managed to steal his heart and pull Heath down a path of no return. Heath has trod in the world of conservation detection dogs ever since, walking side-by-side with many incredible rescue pups across innumerable landscapes. The more Heath learned from these sage animals, the more he wanted to share this wisdom with others.

Jennifer Hartman, Field Scientist, Rogue Detection Teams

Jennifer began her career in the detection dog field in 2009 when she met Max, a spicy, quirky Australian blue heeler mix. Max introduced Jennifer to the amazing talents of working alongside detection dogs but more importantly, he showed her the life-altering relationships that those who work alongside our canine counterparts for wildlife conservation initiatives form. Alongside Max, Scooby, Filson, and her other canine colleagues, Jennifer has worked on projects spanning a diversity of environments and species, from hot African savannahs searching for big cats to steamy jungles in Southeast Asia unearthing data on pangolin, and throughout the United States and Canada.

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