Detection dogs in Conservation

Project leadership: Dr. Reinhard Klenke
Staff responsible:  Dr. Reinhard Klenke , Dr. Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth, Teresa Nitz
Project duration: seit 2014
Cooperation partners: Otterzentrum Hankensbüttel, Wildlife Detection Dogs, Monitoring Dogs
Contact person: Dr. Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth

Project description


Many species of animals and plants wich play an important role for nature conservation are highly elusive. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is one of these species. The Eurasian otter is very cryptic and, due to its mostly nocturnal activity, hard to observe. Since they use their scats for intraspecific communication, the most common non-invasive detection method is the search for its scat. Usually, specifically trained persons searched for and collected scats for further analyses. However, during the last study between 2006 and 2012 the sympatric occurrence of the American Mink (Neovison vison) increased dramatically. While during the first three years, most of the collected scats belonged to the Eurasian otter, 10% of the scats visually identified as Eurasian otter belonged to the Mink in 2010-2012. In total, 34% of the scats were found to be from sypatric carnivores. As the main diet of the carnivores in the study area consists of fish, their scats were almost identical in shape, color and smell. Thus, verifying the scat bevore using expensive genetic methods would be extremely helpful.


Scat discrimination is possible using specially trained dogs. (Scat) detection dogs are commonly used in nature conservation and species monitoring. In previous studies, dogs successfully distinguished between close related, sympatric species and could even distinguish between specific individuals. In this study we evaluate the use of detection dogs in nature conservation using the case study of the Eurasian otter. We want to know whether detection dogs are able to distiguish between close related carnivores even if they feed on the same diet (fish).

In die Suche schicken
The dog handler sends the dog to search
Search chronology


  • Grimm-Seyfarth A, Klenke R A (2017): Suchhunde im Naturschutz: Geruchsunterscheidung zwischen nahe verwandten Arten mit identischer Diät. In: Schüler C, Kaul P (Hrsg.) Faszinosum Spürhunde: Gefahren sichtbar machen – Gefahren abwenden. Tagungsergebnisse des 3. Symposiums für Odorologie im Diensthundewesen an der Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. Schriften der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Odorologie e.V. Band 1. Verlag Dr. Kovač, Hamburg, pp 253 - 266