The more I learn about the use of detection dogs in wildlife surveys, the more excited I am about the huge potential of this method. In December, I attended a CIEEM South-West workshop on the use of detection dogs in ecology and conservation run by Kate Jeffreys of Geckoella, Louise Wilson of Conservation K9 Consultancy and Nikki Glover of Wessex Water.
Louise shared some of her incredible knowledge and experience and talked us through how she has been working on expanding the use of detection dogs for this type of work in the UK for many years, having done this successfully overseas. The workshop also included a demonstration by Freya the great crested newt detection dog, trained and handled by Nikki Glover of Wessex Water.
Inspired by this I joined a “Super Sniffers” course last weekend with my amazing springer spaniel Marnie to learn more about what makes a good detection dog and handler and how detection dogs can be used in ecology and conservation.
This has been a great starting point for us, but if we were to take this further, there is a lot more training and work for us to do. In the meantime I am looking forward to collaborating with others to follow up on actions from the workshop and to practice the techniques learned from the training course with Marnie.
It goes without saying that it is essential to employ a professionally trained dog handler with suitable qualifications and experience for any ecology and conservation surveys in order to get reliable results.
Following the workshop the Ecology Detection Dogs in Britain and Ireland Facebook group has been created for sharing information. If you have carried out any projects with detection dogs, or have projects where you think they could be used it would great to hear more so that we can start to gather together case studies of successful projects, look at potential future projects, identify areas of research needed and start to gather thoughts on guidance and any other useful information.