Unseen Passage: Conservation Dogs

Sniffer dog Tucker uses his nose to help researchers find out why a killer whale population off the northwest coast of the United State is on the decline. He searches for whale faeces floating on the surface of the water, which are then collected for examination. He is one of the elite team of detection dogs used by scientists studying a number of species including right whales and killer whales.

Conservation canines are fast becoming indispensable tools for biologists according to Aimee Hurt, associate director and co-founder of Working Dogs for Conservation, based in Three Forks, Montana.

Over the last few years, though, so many new conservation dog projects have sprung up that Hurt can no longer keep track of them all. Her organization’s dogs and their handlers are fully booked to assist field researchers into 2012.

“Dogs have such a phenomenal sense of smell,” explained Sam Wasser, director of the center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has worked with scatdetection dogs since 1997.

Scientists have been using Conservation Canines in their research since 1997. These dogs have enabled them to non-invasively access vast amount of genetic and physiological information which is used to tackle conservation problem around the world. Such information has proved vital for determining the causes and consequences of human disturbances on wildlife as well as the action needed to mitigate such impacts.

The ideal detection dog is extremely energetic with an excessive play drive. These dogs will happily work all day long, motivated by the expectation of a ball game as reward for sample detection. The obsessive high energy personalities of detection dogs also makes them difficult to maintain as pets. As a result they frequently find themselves abandoned to animal shelters, facing euthanasia. The programme rescues these dogs and offers them a satisfying career in conservation research.


  1. According to the text there are a few ____________ detection dogs like Tucker.
  2. Tucker sniffs for whale ____________ .
  3. The dogs are special because they assist in research without ____________ .
  4. The ideal detection dog ____________ .
  5. The dog expect ____________ as a reward of their hardwork.
  6. ____________ of these dogs make it difficult to keep them as pets.
  7. These dogs find a career in ____________ .
  8. The word ‘euthanasia’ means ____________ .


  1. conservation
  2. faeces floating on the surface of the water
  3. much expectation
  4. is extremely energetic with an excessive play drive
  5. a ball game
  6. The obsessive, high energy personalities
  7. conservation research
  8. mercy killing

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