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Dogs Trained to Find Tree Killers

Dogs Trained to Find Tree Killers

Two dogs are being used in an Asian longhorned Beetle eradication program. They are being trained to smell the beetle droppings to help researchers identify hardwood trees that are infested and require eradication.

Asian longhorned beetles live in and reproduce in hardwood tree species, such as maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm, and ash. The beetle eventually kills the host tree. The destructive species was unknowingly brought into the United States in hardwood packing materials such as pallets when goods from China were shipped here, starting in the 1980s. It has been reported the first of the beetles in the United States were noticed in Brooklyn in 1996.

The dogs are being trained for use in an area of Massachusetts that has already identified over 29,000 infested trees and had them removed. (Seven thousand replacement trees have been planted.)  Six thousands trees in New York had to be cut down and destroyed. Over 1,500 were also removed in Chicago. The beetles have caused entire neighborhoods to lose their trees, and infestations are still being discovered. There is a $25,000 fine for transporting any wood hosting these beetles, because spreading them to other trees and forests would be disastrous.

The reason the eradication and quarantine efforts are being taken seriously is that the beetles can spread and kill enough trees that entire ecosystems can be disrupted. For example, in a region of China they may have killed up to 50 million trees. Eradication efforts are taking place in the states of New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The US Dept. of Agriculture has also created teaching content focused on the beetle and what can be done about the tree destruction, for schools called BeetleBusters.

Image Credit: Djmirko

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Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens, Natural Pest Control, Nature & Wildlife

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43 comments

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3:11PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Thank you

12:03PM PDT on May 2, 2012

Aren't dogs wonderful . . . . . . I can't imagine a world without them. And cats too . . . . . .

10:09AM PDT on May 1, 2012

Good dog! Give him a treat (or two).

6:01AM PDT on Jul 20, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:11PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Go doggy, kill and attack!

2:01AM PDT on May 22, 2011

There's always something new and of great value that dogs are able to do..... They're simply wonderful animals !

12:15PM PDT on May 19, 2011

Dogs are so intelligent.

9:16AM PDT on May 19, 2011

Interesting.

7:29AM PDT on May 18, 2011

thats a very good idea

2:11PM PDT on May 17, 2011

nice

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