Dogs helping out Montana conservationists


Dogs helping out Montana Conservationists

KALISPELL, Mont. - A Montana woman who's traveled the world training dogs to have them to track invasive species is hoping to use her skills right here in Montana.

Peppin is an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois. Peppin likes to run outside and play in the snow.

"It's his greatest joy," said trainer Megan Parker.

What may look like fun is actually Peppin working.

"They lead us to things that have information we need to better conserve species or get rid of an invasive species or whatever it is so they use their nose to do things that we can't possibly do without them," said Parker.

Peppin is an invasive species sniffing dog.

He's trained to track and find different types of animals or plants that are of special interest to conservationists, like Parker.

"They do a really good job at finding things that are hard for people to find.  They're cryptic, they're hidden, they're small, they're so wide, you know, across a landscape like bear poop.  Well I can see bear poop, but I can't see it from 200 meters like our dogs can," said Parker.

Parker is the director of research for Working Dogs for Conservation. She's traveled around the world working with various dogs tracking and finding invasive species. She's hoping to help out here in her native Montana.

"If mussels took over Flathead Lake, it would be a very different ecosystem in that lake and if we can prevent that from happening by having people clean their boats better or identifying boats that might have them on coming from an infested lake, people have a really hard time seeing these things so if dogs can help, we'd like to be a part of that," said Parker.

Parker says that dogs like Peppin don't come around often. Only one in 1,500 dogs can do the type of work that Peppin does.

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