Article by: Bill McAuliffe , Star Tribune
Four dogs, trained to sniff out other invasive pests, have been in the state since April, learning to detect the insect, larvae and wood.
In a first-in-the-nation strategy to contain the pest, state agriculture officials have hired dogs to sniff out ash borers and their larvae before they might be carried out of infested areas.
Four dogs, already trained to find endangered species of plants and animals, other invasive pests and even human remains, have been training in Minnesota since April to detect both ash wood and ash borers.
At a demonstration Tuesday in Arden Hills, two of them — Denali, a shaggy, 10-year-old German shepherd from Reno, Nev., and Wicket, an 8-year-old Lab from Three Forks, Mont. — bounded over a tangled pile of waste brush and a 5-foot-tall mulch pile before proudly discovering their prey, each in about two minutes.
“We smell parts per thousand. Dogs smell parts per trillion,” said Aimee Hurt, co-founder and director of operations for Working Dogs for Conservation, based in Three Forks, whose eight dogs have tracked Chinese bush clover in Iowa, rosy wolfsnail in Hawaii and brown tree snakes in Guam. “They’re a magic combination of really good sensing abilities with an interest in communicating with us.” [ … continue reading ]