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WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 15, 2013, 04:24 PM

Minnesota DNR is using dogs to fight aquatic invasive species

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- A new program this year through the Minnesota DNR is using dogs to fight aquatic invasive species.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- A new program this year through the Minnesota DNR is using dogs to fight aquatic invasive species.

Zebra-mussel-sniffing dogs are now helping conservation officers inspect boats.

Reporter Becky Parker has this story.

The Minnesota DNR now has another tool to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species.

This is Digger, a zebra mussel-sniffing dog.

Minnesota is the second state, after California, to train dogs to locate aquatic invasive species during boat inspections.

LT. Larry Hanson- Department of Natural Resources: "Their nose is so much better to be able to find them."

In fact, Digger has already detected hitchhiking zebra mussels in other parts of the state.

Two of the dogs in the program, including Digger, are rescue dogs.

The DNR got them from shelters and put them through five weeks of training.

Hanson: "Now, they have a job. Instead of just driving somebody nuts at home or not having a good home."

Though the dogs are efficient at detecting zebra mussels, there are only 3 in the state of Minnesota and they can't be everywhere at once. So, personal responsibility is still the number one way to prevent the spread of invasive species.

That includes dumping bait buckets, draining the boat plug, and doing a visual check for any species before leaving a water access.

But Dennis Fuhrman, a resident on Little Detroit and vice president of the Lake Detroiters association says they appreciate any help they can get to keep zebra mussels out.

Dennis Fuhrman- Little Detroit Resident: "If they save one zebra mussel from going into an uninfested area, it's a big deal."

The DNR has been using the dogs for inspections for the past month.

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