03 November 2016

Canine Jobs: Preserving, Controlling and Protecting Wildlife

Dogs aren’t just entertaining companions, therapy or service animals, they also help protect and conserve wildlife.

In efforts to curtail human and wildlife conflicts, canines are being used to keep mountain goats, sheep and even bears away from areas in parks where they may encounter humans.

(Gracie, nps.gov)
This summer Glacier National Park in Montana implemented “Bark Ranger” a pilot project using Gracie the border collie to train wildlife to stay away from popular areas in the park.

Gracie is also a magnet for park visitors and helps ranger Mark Biel connect with visitors to talk about a range of safety issues.

"No one wants to talk to me, but if they see her they come up and pet her, then I've got you," Biel told National Public Radio.

Waterton National Park, just across the border in Canada from Glacier Park, has been using collies around aggressive deer protecting their fawns since 2009.

Within a few years of launching the program, adverse encounters between deer and people in Waterton fell from 40 each season to just four.

Some canines have a job controlling an animal people consider much more dangerous - bears.

A variety of parks, including Kananaskis Country in Alberta, Canada, use Karelian bear dogs to deter bears from venturing near roads, campgrounds or other areas where they may encounter humans.

Wind River Bear Institute, a well-known non-profit organization in Montana, offers on-site consultation and courses for bear managers, private groups and individuals in bear shepherding, conflict prevention and Karelian bear dog training and handling.

The bear dogs are very independent and will bark an alert as soon as they sense a bear in the area.

They almost always work in teams of two dogs and two trainers. The dogs may track individually, but once a bear is located, they work as a team to shepherd it to a safer location.

Wildlife control canine, Piper, has doesn’t work in a park, but rather at the Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan.

He spends his days keeping birds and other wildlife off and away from the runways, and has proven to be very popular with humans - he has over 47,000 followers on Instagram.

But not all dogs working with wildlife have direct contact with them.

Conservation Canines are scent detecting dogs trained to locate wildlife scat over large areas.

The scat samples, which are collected and analyzed, enable researchers to ascertain species abundance, distribution, resource use, and physiological health all in relation to the environmental pressure(s) the species is encountering.

Wow! Wildlife conservation, protection and control - all in a day’s work for some talented canines.

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