Teaching detector dogs new tricks

Teaching detector dogs new tricks

May 31, 2018

The Australian Government, in partnership with the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species Ltd (FAME), is investing in a pioneering project to help fight extinction and protect our native species.

Through the co-investment, two specially-trained detector dogs are being deployed in the Tutanning Nature Reserve in Western Australia as part of a scientific trial to test their ability to detect the scent of feral cats. The dogs have been trained to detect the scent of feral cats in the wild, without attacking the cats or other wildlife, and will be under the strict control of expert handlers at all times.

Assistant Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, said that the trial was part of a project which aims to explore the effectiveness of detector dogs in helping to control feral cat numbers across the Tutanning, Dryandra and Boyagin nature reserves in the WA Wheatbelt region.

“Tackling the impact of feral cats is a priority for the Australian Government that we have identified under our Threatened Species Strategy,” Ms Price said .

“Detector dogs have proven effective in helping to control feral animals in other parts of the country, so I’m very keen to see the results of this trial and whether we can achieve similar success in WA.

“These reserves are home to the last remaining wild populations of Numbats, but also Woylies, Chuditch, and Malleefowl. We are extremely pleased to be co-investing in this innovative project, together with FAME and the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, to help protect and recover these iconic WA species.”

The Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box, also praised the co-investment in the detector dog trial, which was promoted through the Threatened Species Prospectus.

“Partnerships are key to threatened species recovery, and the Threatened Species Prospectus is a call to the business and philanthropic community to join us in fighting extinction,” Dr Box said.

“I am delighted that the Australian Government is co-investing and working together with FAME and the WA Government to deliver practical, on-ground actions that will help to recover Australia’s precious threatened species. ”

“Once again we are thrilled to be partnering with the Australia Government on this ground-breaking project,” FAME CEO, Tracy McNamara, said.

“The impact of the success of this project will not only guard one of the last populations of wild numbats but, in addition, will see the protection of a range of critically-endangered collateral beneficiaries that are affected by feral cats.”

The Australian Government and FAME are each contributing $150,000 to the project, which is being delivered by the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.