Is that illegal fish I smell?The biggest difference between K9 dogs used by police and K9 dogs used by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is training, DNR Conservation Officer
By: Pine Journal, Pine Journal
The biggest difference between K9 dogs used by police and K9 dogs used by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is training, DNR Conservation Officer Scott Staples said during a demonstration in Carlton this weekend.
“Our dogs are the same except instead of sniffing out drugs, our dogs sniff out game and fish,” Staples said, explaining that his dog was trained and certified to locate white-tailed deer, walleye and Chinook salmon last year, for example.
DNR Conservation Officers Staples (K9 partner Schody) and Travis Muyres (K9 partner Hunter) gave a complete overview of the DNR program and what the dogs are trained for during the demonstration June 27 at the Four Seasons in Carlton. Staples and Schody showed how a K9 could find a fish under the hood of a car. Schody also found an item by scent in the tall grass.
“Our most common use for these dogs is tracking,” Staples said. “We can use that as a search-and-rescue-type tool or for someone who’s fled from police. It can be something as simple as coming upon a car parked next to a trout stream to help me figure out which direction they went if I want to check licensing.”
The dogs are also trained to apprehend a suspect. To demonstrate this, Staples wore a padded arm band and Hunter chased him and held him by the arm.
Both the Lake Superior and Carlton County chapters of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) and the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation were represented.
The well-trained dogs aren’t cheap, Staples said. Two-year-old Schody cost $7,500 – paid for by a generous donation from Safari Club International (SCI) – even before he had any training. Initial training consists of 12 weeks of patrol dog school and six weeks of detector school. However, training never stops. There is a required minimum 16 hours of training a month just for the patrol part of the job.
“Add on four more hours for the detector training and you can see we stay very busy keeping these dogs well trained,” Staples said. “Keep in mind these are just minimum requirements. It’s usually more.”
Although the dogs also help other area law enforcement agencies, a large portion of the K9 unit funding comes from donations.
“Carlton County is one area where it’s great to have him because the Sheriff’s office no longer has any K9s,” Staples said, noting that groups like MDHA and SCI have always been great supporters.
For those who missed the demonstration last week, Staples said he’s hoping to set up another event this fall, when the local DNR officers hope to have a third K9 dog active (he’s being trained now).