Conservation Detector dogs sniff out environmental weeds

Sally and Connor are Conservation detector dogs, the newest defence in stopping the spread of hawkweeds.

Conservation detector dog Sally

Local land managers and community members were invited to the 2015 NSW Weeds Conference in Cooma on 14 October to see the newest defence in stopping the spread of hawkweeds, Sally and Connor, Conservation Detector dogs.

Dr Pete Turner, Senior Weeds Officer from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said that Orange Hawkweed and Mouse-eared Hawkweed, which in NSW are currently restricted to small areas of Kosciuszko National Park, present an extreme threat to conservation and agricultural lands.

'The potential for these weeds to spread in the Park and into surrounding lands forced us to think outside the box when it comes to eradication approaches,' Dr Turner said.

'Detector dogs are helping NPWS locate endangered birds in the north of the state, and we are using a similar approach by enlisting the highly-sensitive noses of Sally and Connor to help us sniff-out the last hawkweeds in Kosciuszko.

'The small, yellow flowered Mouse-ear hawkweed was spotted for the first time in NSW earlier this year near a popular walking trail in the Park.

'Within a matter of days our staff had it identified and controlled but we need to be vigilant and keep searching to make sure we have found all plants.

'Hawkweeds are notoriously difficult to find and outside the flowering season, so that’s why we’ll be relying on Sally and Connor to help sniff out any remaining plants.

'Everyone who comes to the Public Information Day will get to meet the conservation detector dogs and see how they are being trained to detect the scent of hawkweeds,' Dr Turner said.

Live hawkweed plants and other weeds will also be on display, and participants can learn how to identify, report and manage weeds on their property.

NPWS is leading a symposium at the Conference highlighting the many approaches to managing weeds for conservation. NPWS manages weeds within the state's park system to protect native flora and fauna, maintain natural ecosystems and cultural heritage, and minimise the spread of weeds to and from neighbouring land.

Sally and Connor were in action on Wednesday 14 October at Cooma Multifunction Centre, Cromwell Street, Cooma.