One Dog that Saved an Island of Penguins

Watch and learn about Finn the Wonder Dog and his journey that helped save the Humboldt National Reserve.

Finn is no ordinary dog. He is a detection dog, specially trained to sniff out invasive rabbits. You might wonder, “How does a dog come to be a detection dog?” Well, like many dogs, Finn was rescued from an animal shelter and worked for the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, but Finn’s skills were needed on islands all around the world.

First, he ventured to Macquarie Island where our Island Conservation staff first met him. His keen sense of smell helped Island Conservation and our partners to confirm the success of the invasive rabbit removal in 2014. That same year he traveled to Chile with his trainer Karen Andrews to help Island Conservation on the islands of Choros and Chañaral.

Choros and Chañaral Islands are part of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and home to the Humboldt Penguin and the Peruvian Diving Petrel. The invasive rabbits devoured native vegetation that shelter penguin chicks and occupied the nests of the Peruvian Diving Petrel. Richard Torres, manager of protected wild areas at CONAF, explained:

It is a story that has happened on many islands around the world, where sailors or fishermen did this in order to have food in isolated places. However, these species, because they are not part of the island ecosystem, cause harm to the native biodiversity.

Now, thanks to Finn and his wondrous sense of smell, Choros and Chañaral Islands have officially been declared free of invasive rabbits and for the first time in 100 years, native birds have a chance to thrive on the islands.

Source: El Definido
Featured photo: Finn resting after a long day’s work. Credit: Tommy Hall/Island Conservation

About Island Conservation

Island Conservation prevents extinctions by removing invasive species from islands. To date, we have successfully restored 64 islands worldwide, benefiting 1195 populations of 487 species and subspecies. Working together with local communities, government management agencies, and conservation organizations, we select islands that have the greatest potential for preventing the extinction of globally threatened species.

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