Conservationists deploy a canine tracker to confirm the removal of invasive Argentine Ants on Santa Cruz and San Clemente Islands.
For centuries people have used dogs for work, from herding sheep to sniffing for drugs or explosives. Today, conservationists are deploying canines’ excellent tracking skills to find invasive species. Conservation dogs have been used to sniff out rats, rabbits, and mice on islands around the world, but now one yellow lab has become an expert at sniffing for ants. On Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, The Nature Conservancy is using an ant-sniffing dog to find invasive Argentine Ants.
Tobias the ant-sniffing dog has been working for three months to find any remnant populations of the invasive ant species. So far, the effort has not turned up any nests of the species, which is a good sign for the conservation effort that has taken nine years.
Argentine Ants are not native to the California Channel islands; they displace native species. Argentine Ants are known for the supercolonies they form, which make them difficult to eradicate. Christina Boser of The Nature Conservancy commented:
Argentine Ants are hitchhikers. They tend to hitchhike on materials that humans bring around the world. They swarm and certainly do bite.
The effort to remove the ants has been a long process but Tobias has confirmed the island to be ant free after searching approximately 10,000 acres for any sign that of the species. Next, Tobias is off to San Clemente Island to sniff for any signs of invasive Argentine Ants there, and conservationists are hoping for the same positive results.
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