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Vier Spürhunde in der Hundeschule von Martina Franke-Köhler in Bochum

© Norbert Menke, NABU-Naturschutzstation Münsterland

Wildlife detection dogs working in the field

Detection dogs have been used by customs at airports for many years to identify narcotics and explosives. But also endangered and protected wildlife or plant species that are smuggled can be detected with the help of these special animal ‘employees’. For some years now, more and more sensitive dogs have been trained to detect rare species also in nature to accompany appropriate conservation measures.

Since autumn 2018, four wildlife detection dogs have been trained at Martina Franke-Köhler's mobile dog school accordingly in finding common spadefoot toads. Initial test runs were successful, so that the dog team was able to carry out the first field trials at the beginning of May 2020. Together with Patrick Lückel (Lower Nature Conservation Authority, District of Borken) and Norbert Menke (NABU-Naturschutzstation Münsterland) who coordinates the breeding and reintroduction of the common spadefoot in North Rhine-Westphalia, the canine unit had the first trial in the nature reserve “Fürstenkuhle” in the District of Borken to detect toads in the field. As these trials also proved to be promising, the district gave permission to have the detection dogs search for the common spadefoot regularly there over the next few weeks.

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