With their sharp noses, these very good dogs help eradicate invasive species
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Kyoko Johnson trains dogs for conservation.
Through her non-profit organization Conservation Dogs of Hawaii, she teaches dogs and their handlers to recognize invasive plants, insects and animals.
“While the dog has a good sense of smell, the handler is a supportive person and must help get the dog to the right places to find these goals,” she said.
Sue Chipperton is a volunteer in Johnson’s group.
Three of their dogs do scent detection, including Eddie, the dog featured in “Hawaii Five-0”. He learns to sniff out rodents and mongooses.
“It’s the best way for any dog ââto do what it was designed to do, which is to use its nose and look for something,” said Chipperton.
Ten dogs Johnson trained regularly look for invasive species on Oahu‘s trails.
“Now we find that the dogs are finding the targets way off the track that people cannot see or that are too small to see,” she said.
When they find a target, the handler alerts local conservation groups to go inside and remove it.
âIt could just be a tiny, tiny plant sitting all alone off the path. The dog will just suddenly take a turn and find him, âChipperton said.
Johnson founded her nonprofit in 2018. She has trained 30 canine and dog handler teams on Oahu. Now she is training rats to find hidden carcasses of dead animals and birds in taro fields.
“We are trying to establish ourselves as a contact for all types of odor detection for environmental protection,” she said.
Training a dog can take weeks or months, depending on the suitability of the animal. Johnson is constantly on the lookout for new conservation goals to challenge her sense of smell.