Communicating conservation with detection dogs

Click here for a list of conservation dogs to follow on social media.

 
Image: Rodent detection dog Ahu in his work uniform.

Image: Rodent detection dog Ahu in his work uniform.

Image: Stoat detection dog Woods on Mana Island. 

Image: Stoat detection dog Woods on Mana Island. 

Image: Ahu checks out a dead weta on Mana Island.

Image: Ahu checks out a dead weta on Mana Island.

Dogs have been used in conservation in New Zealand since the 1890s, when pioneering conservationist Richard Henry trained his dog to track down kākāpō and kiwi. Today, the Department of Conservation has around 80 dogs in its Conservation Dog Programme. Some of these detect endangered species (e.g. kiwi) while others are trained to sniff out pests (e.g. stoats, rats).

In addition to their jobs as species-seekers and stoat-busters, detection dogs are often used as ambassadors for the conservation movement. This project explores whether cute and cuddly detection dogs can act as a "hook" to engage the public with conservation issues more broadly. How do people perceive conservation dogs, and to what extent do they influence public response to conservation?

Click here to read the information sheet for participants in the Perceptions of Conservation in New Zealand survey. The survey is now closed. Many thanks to the respondents for their participation.

This project is part of Ellen Rykers' MSciComm. Luckily, this project involves hanging out with lots of cute doggos!

Image: Ahu the rodent detection dog on Mana Island.

Image: Ahu the rodent detection dog on Mana Island.

Image: Rodent detection dogs Bail and Odin excited to find a dead rat in a demonstration by handler Leona.

Image: Rodent detection dogs Bail and Odin excited to find a dead rat in a demonstration by handler Leona.