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Minnesota DNR Using Dogs to Find Zebra Mussels

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June 06, 2013
Minnesota DNR Using Dogs to Find Zebra Mussels - 6

Fugitives and various other bad guys dread the sound of a K-9 unit in hot pursuit. Now, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources adds zebra mussels to the list of miscreants to be targeted by those skilled noses.

In its ongoing battle against aquatic invasive species (AIS), Minnesota has become the second state (following California) to use trained dogs to sniff out zebra mussels during the open water season. Earlier this year, conservation officers Todd Kanieski and Travis Muyres traveled to California to learn about the country's first program successfully utilizing mussel trained K-9's to prevent the spread of AIS.

"A K-9 can find a mussel on a boat much faster than a human inspector," said Kanieski.

Although the DNR has used dogs in resource protection roles since, 1995, 2013 sees the agency's first use of mussel-detection training. Muyres, an experienced K-9 handler and certified K-9 unit trainer, spent five weeks training three dogs to inspect watercraft for the fingernail-size zebra mussels that can cling to boats and hide in bilges and livewells. Later, these K-9s will also be trained in tracking, evidence recovery, firearms detection, and wildlife detection.

Muyres' K-9 mussel team partner "Laina" is a Belgium Malinois purchased from a domestic breeder. The other teams include water resource enforcement officers Lt. Julie Siems and her K-9 partner "Brady" and Lt. Larry Hanson and his K-9 partner "Digger." Siems' and Hanson's dogs are Labrador retrievers provided by animal shelters and animal rescue organizations.

"It's very difficult to find a qualified prospective detector dog, but each of the dogs selected from the shelter was healthy, sociable and had a strong search drive," said Muyres. "That search drive will prove to be invaluable in detecting AIS."

Kanieski adds: "Combining mussel detecting with these additional skills will add muscle to the DNR's capabilities and efficiency in protecting the state's natural resources."

Comments (6)

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from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Some people don't, but its not practical for the state's DNR to check all of the boats all of the time. And its too much for them to try anyways. The Government should put most of their money (thats going for the "stop the spread") into programs that take care of the zebra mussels. There is going to be a day when these AIS are on most lakes. Then what? And after all the time and money has been wasted, then, a long time after the beginning of this, the government might try to get rid of them, or else just ignore the problem. But trying to manage the wildlife by getting rid of a invasive species can have dangerous results. I think i have heard of programs that tried to vanish invasive species before and just caused more environmental problems.

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

charlie elk: yes SOME of us are responsible. however most americans are not responsible to pick or clean up after themselves. this can easily be proven by the amount of garbage on public lands and boat landings. if they cannot pick up a beer can then they are certainly not going to clean eurasian milfoil off the boat.

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from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I don’t know about wisc14, but I actually care about WHAT the government does with my money when they take and demand more. I completely agree with Charlie elk, this program is a huge waste of money for the state that could be spent MORE WISELY! YES I agree that these AIS’s are causing havoc for our native wildlife BUT BE PRATICAL! These mussels are already here, there are more ways AIS spread than just by boat! Plus there is no way possible, to check EVERY boat every time it is put into every lake, which by the way we have over 10,000 of them. Sooner or later they will be on most, if not all lakes! Pulling over vehicles with boats is more harassing than practical. This program fails to “stop the spread”, want proof, just look at how many more lakes have been listed with these mussels now.

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from charlie elk wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Some of us are responsible enough to check our own watercraft without the supervision of government nannies.

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from wisc14 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

harassment? because they are checking over your boats to prevent the spread of AIS? Do you know how much invasive species are costing this country? zebra mussels filter out all of the plankton in a system. all fish eat plankton at some point in their lives when they are young (obviously perch feed on plankton for a long time and pike switch to eating other fish very quickly). this is a major reason why the yellow perch fishery in lake Michigan has gone to hell.

sounds like charlieelk needs to quit whining and start thinking about giving back to the natural resources so future generations have some fish to catch too

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

This is an outstanding waste of money and effort in a state suffering large budget shortfalls. I quit hunting & fishing in MN because of all the harassment taking place at some boat landings.

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from charlie elk wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

This is an outstanding waste of money and effort in a state suffering large budget shortfalls. I quit hunting & fishing in MN because of all the harassment taking place at some boat landings.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

harassment? because they are checking over your boats to prevent the spread of AIS? Do you know how much invasive species are costing this country? zebra mussels filter out all of the plankton in a system. all fish eat plankton at some point in their lives when they are young (obviously perch feed on plankton for a long time and pike switch to eating other fish very quickly). this is a major reason why the yellow perch fishery in lake Michigan has gone to hell.

sounds like charlieelk needs to quit whining and start thinking about giving back to the natural resources so future generations have some fish to catch too

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from charlie elk wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Some of us are responsible enough to check our own watercraft without the supervision of government nannies.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I don’t know about wisc14, but I actually care about WHAT the government does with my money when they take and demand more. I completely agree with Charlie elk, this program is a huge waste of money for the state that could be spent MORE WISELY! YES I agree that these AIS’s are causing havoc for our native wildlife BUT BE PRATICAL! These mussels are already here, there are more ways AIS spread than just by boat! Plus there is no way possible, to check EVERY boat every time it is put into every lake, which by the way we have over 10,000 of them. Sooner or later they will be on most, if not all lakes! Pulling over vehicles with boats is more harassing than practical. This program fails to “stop the spread”, want proof, just look at how many more lakes have been listed with these mussels now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

charlie elk: yes SOME of us are responsible. however most americans are not responsible to pick or clean up after themselves. this can easily be proven by the amount of garbage on public lands and boat landings. if they cannot pick up a beer can then they are certainly not going to clean eurasian milfoil off the boat.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

Some people don't, but its not practical for the state's DNR to check all of the boats all of the time. And its too much for them to try anyways. The Government should put most of their money (thats going for the "stop the spread") into programs that take care of the zebra mussels. There is going to be a day when these AIS are on most lakes. Then what? And after all the time and money has been wasted, then, a long time after the beginning of this, the government might try to get rid of them, or else just ignore the problem. But trying to manage the wildlife by getting rid of a invasive species can have dangerous results. I think i have heard of programs that tried to vanish invasive species before and just caused more environmental problems.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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