Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Ireland Searches September 2012

Over the last few years I have been in contact with a PHD student from Ireland whom is researching Squirrel activity. Emma Sheehy has been interested in using Pine Marten scat dogs for a while now as she needed to know more about the Pine Marten diet- for example are Pine Marten partial to a bit of Grey Squirrel for tea? So the best way to find this out is to find Pine Marten Scat and run tests on the scat.

Over the 6 months Emma has been relentlessly searching for scat she has been successful in collecting 16 samples. However she was in desperate need to increase her sample size. So Luna and myself where asked to visit Ireland and to search three large forests.

We had two days of very successfully searches with Luna in the first 3 minutes of being off the lead found a pine marten scat immediately which we would have simply walked past. Luna covered miles of ground and was so eager to find as many scats as possible. The weather was rather warm and little breeze but Luna's motivation and enthusiasm never falters and always makes me proud.

Luna Found a scat here that was disgusted by Pheasant Droppings.
Over the two days Luna was successful in detection 8 pine marten scats. This was amazing and we didn't expect her to find as many as she did. Luna was always enthusiastic about continuing to search once we collected a scat, sometimes it was rather hard to keep up with her.

Over the two days Luna possibly worked 12 hours which looking back was rather ambitious. She didn't  look sad or need motivating but really from an energy point of view 3-4 hours searching a day is the maximum a conservation dog should do. Due to the terrain the dogs work in, the area the dog covers, the agility required to cover the area sufficiently and ultimately that olfaction takes considerably more energy than merely walking a dog around, so 3-4 hours should be maximum time worked.

A scat being taken to be DNA Sampled.

Luna also had difficult terrain to deal with, as well as many people attending to help with searching which could have been a distraction to Luna but she didn't seemed bothered in the slightest. Also we had to transport Luna on the back seat of a 4 x 4 which she loved. no problem with.

Me and Luna on our final day in Ireland. 

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