U.S. is training dogs to sniff out smuggled ivory and rhino horns

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What is it, Lancer?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has 4 new graduates that will make life harder for wildlife smugglers. Their names are Viper, Butter, Lancer and Locket. Yes, they are dogs trained in the first 13-week "wildlife detector dogs" program that teaches to detect the smells of things like elephant ivory or rhino horns. They'll be operating at ports, airports, even FedEx and UPS centers.

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“The recent rapid growth in the global trade in protected wildlife is pushing some species perilously close to extinction. Elephant and rhino populations in particular are declining at alarming rates,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Deputy Chief Ed Grace. “The battle to stop wildlife smuggling is one we simply cannot afford to lose, and using dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell to catch smugglers will give us a real leg up in this effort.”

The four graduating dogs and their Service Wildlife Inspector-Handlers completed the 13-week training course at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia, half an hour southwest of Atlanta. The center normally trains detector dogs to sniff out fruits and plants to interdict potential insects or diseases that could hurt U.S. agriculture.

For the Wildlife Inspector-Handlers, this is a new and exciting venture.

“This gives me a chance to combine my two great loves, wildlife and dogs,” said Amir Lawal, Wildlife Inspector at the port of Miami. “I can’t wait to get started in the field with my new partner to stop illegal wildlife shipments.” (source)

This is great, but why only 4 dogs? If this pilot program is successful, I think we should greatly ramp up these efforts, and not just in the U.S. Many endangered species are running out of time....

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Via USFWS, LiveScience

See also: China is overfishing its official catch number by 12x (!!!), report shows

Tags: Animals | Animal Welfare | Conservation