Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Species Of Mussels In Montana

Posted: Nov 14 2016, 3:30am CST | by , Updated: Nov 14 2016, 10:21pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Species of Mussels in Montana
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dogs trained in picking up the smell of nonnative zebra and quagga mussels have been used to identify the invasive mussels.

Invasive species of mussels like zebra and quagga heavily damage local ecosystems. They harm fish populations and ruin beaches, so it becomes imperative to remove them from the infested area and also to prevent their further spreading.

In October, invasive mussels were detected in a reservoir in Eastern Montana. Montana’s wildlife agency had confirmed the presence of mussel larvae. To verify the presence of adult invasive mussels, authorities decided to use dogs.

Like bomb-sniffing and drug-sniffing dogs, these dogs are also trained to pick out the smell of zebra and quagga mussels and track them before they take hold in a new area. The dogs that can sniff out the invasive mussels are being deployed at docks where they will check boats as mussels spread by hitching rides on these boats.

On Friday, the dogs inspected the shorelines for the first time in search of invasive mussels while the next day, three dogs teams turned their noses to other reservoirs in the state to ensure invasive species have not entered any new area.

“These dogs are accurate and efficient at boats. This is like a new application for that skill.” Cindy Sawchuk of Alberta’s environment and parks department told Great Falls Tribune.

Originally from Eastern Europe, invasive mussels were first introduced to America in 1990s and infested all of the Great Lakes. Test in October showed the presence of nonnative mussel larvae in Tiber and Canyon Ferry in Montana. That was the first time invasive mussels were shown up in Montana waters.

Both zebra and quagga mussels are virtually identical in their physical appearance as well as behavior. A single quagga or zebra mussel lays about five million eggs, 100,000 of which reach adulthood. A mussel can grow about an inch in diameter and can multiply quickly.

Eileen Ryce, fisheries division administrator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says of the dogs’ search for adult mussels. “If they don’t find anything it doesn’t necessarily mean the lake is negative.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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