Canine conservationists: In Germany, dogs are trained to smell protected animals | The Weather Channel – Articles de The Weather Channel

Representative image of a sniffer dog

(Ranjit Kumar / BCCL Delhi)

If you ever come across dogs wearing fluorescent vests, sniffing on a construction site in Germany, don’t disturb them! These dogs are serious and are likely on a mission to find protected animals so they can be moved to safer places.

While dogs tend to be lovable, silly, and playful, we know they can be trained to serve as service dogs and police dogs. So it’s no surprise that they can be used to conserve wildlife by helping us find out where vulnerable animals are.

German rail group Deutsche Bahn recently revealed it is training sniffer dogs to find protected wildlife on large construction sites slated to speed up projects.

In Germany, the use of dogs in construction projects is relatively new. Until now, humans have been responsible for locating animals that needed to be moved during construction, but the dogs are expected to take over in 2022 after completing their training by the end of this year.

Thanks to their keen sense of smell, dogs can find protected species at any time of the year and in almost any weather. Dogs learn to recognize the scent of animals by sniffing eggshells and droppings outdoors and in a climatic chamber under various weather conditions.

Currently, the railway company trains six dogs of different breeds to detect protected animals such as crawling snakes, yellow-bellied toads, bats, wall lizards and sand lizards on the rail tracks.

While dogs sniff around construction sites, their handlers will track results on a tablet using a new digital data platform to deliver real-time data on detected species to all project participants and regulatory authorities.

The dogs and their trainers are also accompanied by scientists from the University of Innsbruck, the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research.

Their incredibly strong sense of smell, fueled by the 300 million scent receptors they have (by comparison, humans only have 6 million), helped man’s best friend light up the moon by as an invaluable “detector”.

In the past, hunting dogs were used by humans due to their ability to track wild animals. But in the last century, dogs have been used more and more to find rare and elusive species or traces of them. Additionally, they have been deployed to locate explosives and detect medical issues, including tumors and even coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, the use of Wildlife Detector Dogs (WDDs) is well established in many parts of the world and projects deploying them have grown globally. However, if they are to make a meaningful contribution to conservation and management, their strengths, capacities and limitations must be fully identified.


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