Skip to main content

National Wildlife Research Center

Sniffing Out Disease: Dogs Trained for Wildlife Disease Surveillance

Odin is a Labrador retriever/border collie mix. By watching his wagging tail and alert expression, Colorado State University researcher Dr. Glen Golden can sense he is eager to begin his training.

Odin is one of five dogs recently adopted from shelters and animal rescue centers to become detector dogs for wildlife disease surveillance. The dogs are housed and trained at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are part of a collaborative 12-month program to evaluate the effectiveness of training and using dogs to detect and identify waterfowl feces or carcasses infected with avian influenza (AI). If successful, this collaboration may be extended an additional 12 months.

Wildlife Partners Unite to Protect Iconic Species from Deadly Plague

Last month, researchers, wildlife biologists and managers from several federal, state and local agencies gathered at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ (USFWS) National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center to celebrate a breakthrough in wildlife management— the development of an oral vaccine bait that helps protect prairie dogs against deadly sylvatic plague and assists in the recovery of endangered black-footed ferrets (BFF). Sylvatic plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is a bacterial disease transmitted by fleas that afflicts many mammalian species, including humans.