Dogs and wildlife conservation are at the heart of the Orvis identity, and here’s a place where the two come together brilliantly. An organization called Working Dogs for Conservationbased in Three Forks, Montanauses highly trained dogs to work in the field, helping to gather data. According to the organization’s mission statement:
Working Dogs for Conservation has three primary aims: monitoring endangered wildlife, defining wildlife corridors and helping eradicate damaging invasive species; all while ensuring rich and rewarding lives for our canine partners.
The dogs do an amazing job of locating signs of elusive species, especially in rugged terrain. Two recent projects involve using dogs to detect mink and otter scat, which will then be analyzed for contaminants, as well as residues of pharmaceuticals and flame retardants. Present of these compounds in the scat will let biologists know that the local water sources are contaminated.
A second project involves yet another subject dear to Orvis’s heart: wild trout. WDC dogs will be trained to sniff out aquatic invasive species that threaten trout populations in the Rocky Mountains. The first target will be brook trout, a non-native species important from the eastern United States. As you might imagine, it can be quite difficult to monitor fish popluations, because they are difficult to see. because the dogs can scent the fish, the dogs can do a much better job of discovering if the invasive species is present.
The Working Dogs for Conservation website is chock-full of fascinating information, with videos and news links. Click here to visit the WDC site.