The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) newest weapon in the war against the destructive Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) has four legs. Three ALB-sniffing dogs are on the job in Clermont County’s Tate Township. “All three were rescued from animal shelters,” said USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Training Specialist Monica Errico. “Thunder, a beagle, and two lab-mixes, R.J. and Blaze will be on the job in the county through June 8, 2012. They are specially trained to detect the scent of the beetle and have been very effective in finding it during testing thus far.”
On this sunny May afternoon at Burke Park in Bethel, Errico is demonstrating how quickly the dogs can find pieces of wood that have the ALB scent on them. In this case, Thunder, quickly led his handler Joseph Chopko to two locations where the wood pieces were hidden. “We are finding that dogs, with their keen sense of smell and ability to move quickly, can find the ALB faster than humans. Testing in Massachusetts has gone quite well; I expect they will also do a good job here locating the beetle.”
USDA-APHIS ALB Ohio Project Manager Dr. Phillip Baldauf said the dogs’ work will be studied to determine how best to utilize their skills in augmenting eradication efforts. “Over the next few weeks, the dogs will search residential trees, trees in wooded lots, and stacks of firewood in Tate Township for evidence of the beetle,” he said. For more information about the ALB, visit the website www.BeetleBusters.info.
In this Clermont Today video, host, Kathy Lehr shows the the ALB-sniffing dogs in action.