The vulnerably listed hooded plover has made an unlikely ally in a dog called Nessie.
The English springer spaniel, pictured above, is working to protect the beach-nesting species from foxes in on the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide metropolitan coast by using its incredible sense of smell.
Conservation Dogs SA has trained the pooch to track fox scents, in a bid to disrupt patterns of fox behaviour, including foraging on beaches and targeting nests. Finding fox dens can be a laborious task for humans, but for Nessie it took just minutes to sniff out the elusive fox dens.
Also known as ‘Hoodies’, the small-to medium-sized coastal shorebirds that have a distinctive black hood and throat are listed as vulnerable nationally with less than 800 in South Australia and only 7,000 in Australia.
There are about 32 hooded plover breeding pairs monitored and actively managed in the region as part of the project.
Minister Susan Close said the State Government is looking to train dogs for other projects in future.
“The use of conservation dogs to detect foxes has so far proven to be very efficient and effective,” Minister Close said.
“We are also looking to train dogs for other conservation work, such as threatened plant and butterfly larval detection.”
Story by Jennie Lenman / ARN
Photos of Fox den Hunting Dog by Cath Leo, supplied