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Dogs Help With Conservation Study

Scat Lab

What's furry, barks, and sniffs out rare species like a Sherlock Holmes?

Yep -- it's a dog! As it turns out, man's best friend knows a bear or a bobcat when it smells one! Scat sniffing dogs have a nose for this kind of task, and scientific studies prove those noses really work.

A recent study in Vermont is a case in point. Researchers there discovered that dogs were three and a half times more successful at species detection than remote cameras, hair-snares, or other high-tech devices.

Redwood Sciences Lab ecologist Bill Zielinski says that "Right now, dogs bring the most bang for the buck." So it's no surprise the research team wants to give them more work.

And, it seems that high-energy mutts make the best scat sniffers. You know...the type-A personalities. Those doggie detectives go right to the source. For this study they were trained to hunt down the scat of black bears, fishers and bobcats. Back in the lab, scientists used the scat to learn what animals are eating, determine stress levels, and identify individuals through DNA. Information that is critical to conservation and land-use decisions.

Script by Dan Maxwell