WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW) - Dogs, more specifically their noses, may become the newest tools in the fight against the Emerald Ash Borer.
For this project, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture teamed up with Working Dogs for Conservation, who's been training these dogs since April.
The lab mixes at Thursday's demonstration could become part of the team that detects the invasive beetle.
"The dogs all work for a toy reward so all we have to do -- the little magic involved -- is training them when they smell this scent, they will get their toy," said Aimee Hurt, director of operations, for Working Dogs for Conservation:
Early detection may not save the ash trees, but it can help identify the infestation more quickly, according to officials from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
"As people, we can use our eyes to look for things, but so many things are virtually impossible to see and so bringing in these partners who can use their nose just makes a world of difference for finding these rare targets," Hurt said.
The dogs are trained in a controlled environment. A row of containers is laid out and the scent of the Emerald Ash Borer is put in one of them. When the dogs smell that container, they're rewarded with a toy.
So, in the outdoors, if a trained dog sits at an infected area, then she is rewarded with a toy.
"Because (these dogs) are so highly motivated by the toy, then they're willing to do more and more complex searches in order to find that smell and then get their toy," Hurt said.
Using dogs to help detect the Emerald Ash Borer is only a pilot project. Their effectiveness needs to be reviewed before they're approved to be sent out with detection teams.
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