Successful EU sniffer dog programme to be extended

The use of sniffer dogs to detect wildlife trafficking is to be extended to all major sirports, seaports and postal centres across Europe Click image to enlarge © Andreas Eistert Brussels, Belgium, February 2011—a pilot scheme using sniffer dogs to detect wildlife products smuggled through Frankfurt airport has proved so successful, it is to be extended Europe-wide.

The expanded scheme will see the dogs used to detect smuggled wildlife in all Europe’s major airports, seaports and major postal distribution centres.

During the trial period from September 2008 to date, wildlife detector dogs uncovered pieces of highly endangered animal species including sturgeon caviar, elephant ivory, marine turtle shells, and reptile skins and leather goods. Even a bear skull and its skin were detected.

“The expanded sniffer dog programme will serve as a powerful deterrent to discourage would-be smugglers at the region’s borders and will also be used to raise public awareness of wildlife trade laws and regulations,” said Birgit Braun, Co-ordinator of the Wildlife Detector Dog Project.

The project will explore the full range of use of wildlife detector dogs within the EU and aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between such programmes and interested EU Member States.

The project is funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs (DG Home Affairs).

WWF Germany, who helped initiate the scheme, presented information about it at a three day global forum held in January on the use of detector dogs and handler teams in enforcement operations.

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