Two Wildlife Detector Dogs destined for work with the Fiji Petrel on Gau Island have passed their NZ Certification Test.
Bob and Tar, two Labrador cross dogs from Ecoworks, Gisborne, New Zealand have completed their basic training and have received their Certification by the Department of Conservation.
After nine months training, they are now ready for field work before they arrive in Fiji in May this year.
NZ rules are that detector dogs working with Endangered Species must wear a muzzle, even though they are trained never to bite the species they are trained for.
Eleazar O’Conner, the Fiji Petrel Project Officer will travel to New Zealand in April for on the ground training with the dogs and will be working them on Mana Island with for the Department of Conservation where they will be finding Grey-faced Petrel nests and other petrel and shearwater species. Mana I will be a good test for the dogs and provide them an opportunity to find nests of different species, based on the scent they are provided with at the start of the day.
On Gau, Poasa Qalo from Nukuloa village will be the other dog handler and NFMV is grateful to the Fiji Police Force who have agreed to host Poasa with the Dog Unit so that he can get first hand knowledge of working dog handling and husbandry before the wildlife dogs arrive. It is anticipated that Bob and Tar will work the hills of Gau for at least three years in a concerted effort to find the nesting sites of the Fiji Petrel, one of the world’s rarest birds.