Dogs that find endangered plants and animals

The Underground
program date: 
Thu, 04/02/2009

Paul Quamahongnewa interveiws Greg Fitzpatrick from Nature Conservancy. This interview was done at KBOO in conjunction with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Conference, and special youth programming.

Once thought to be extinct, the Fender's blue butterfly was known only from collections made between 1929 and 1937, until Paul Hammond rediscovered it in 1989. Fender's Blue once thrived in the prairies of Oregon, but during the past 140 years an estimated 99 percent of this native prairie has been developed for farmland or other uses. Habitat loss from agriculture and urban development poses the greatest threat to the Fender's blue butterfly. PHOTO CREDIT  A female Fender’s blue butterfly on Kincaid’s lupine at the Conservancy’s Willow Creek Preserve in Oregon. © Matthew Benotsch/TNC

Greg Fitzpatrick, an ecologist for the Nature Conservancy, thought that if a person can teach a dog to find drugs and missing people, then why can’t someone teach a dog to find endangered plants. Fitzpatrick then contacted Dave Veseley, executive director of the Oregon Wildlife Institute,  and pitched him his idea about using dogs for conservation.

Vesely, Fitzpatrick, and Alice Whitelaw, co-founder of the Working Dogs Foundation in Montana, decided to form a team. Vesely began to train Rogue, an intelligent Belgian sheepdog, and two other dogs to find the lupine in 2008.

Paul Quamahongnewa is a senior at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, and has been involved with Hopi High Radio for 3 years.


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