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Jacqui

Jacqui Richards (Now Diggins)

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Queensland None > Animals
Environment > Conservation
To investigate the application of detection dog programs within the conservation sector - New Zealand, USA
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My Churchill Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to meet with 24 experts from New Zealand and the United States of America. The objective of this research was to bring back knowledge to inform the conservation sector, to allow them to determine the most appropriate methods for governing the use of detection dogs to support conservation projects. My finding are based on my discussions with these representatives, my observations and follow up research that I conducted. The information presented and the results of my findings do not necessarily represent the views of the organisations or people that I met during my fellowship. The key findings of my fellowship are summarised below;

  • Detection dogs have limitations and these need to be considered carefully prior to deciding to use a detection dog. Some limitations can be addressed through the project design and others managed by the handler.
  • Due to the logistical considerations associated with effectively planning and implementing a detection dog based project, Researchers and Project managers are strongly advised to consult with professional conservation detection dog organisations or individual who possess relevant experience in project design, training, handling and ideally a background or knowledge in wildlife conservation or other relevant field. Survey objectives, availability of personnel, climate, topography, and other factors will help to determine whether detection dogs are the most appropriate method for a particular survey or study.
  • It is recommended that best practice guidelines and program design methodologies for the use of conservation detection dogs are collaboratively developed and the formation of a collaborative, independent body to provide organisations and governments with information and technical knowledge regarding the ethical and effective use of detection dogs permitting the conservation sector to administer project specific assessments to allow for a more cost efficient and accurate approach to determining the suitability of the detection dog team.
  • It is essential that whatever processes are developed, that they are developed to support the conservation sector and address their needs and concerns whilst ensuring that the dog’s health and welfare is never compromised. 
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