August 6, 2014 1:12 pm
Updated: August 6, 2014 1:20 pm

Sniffer dogs help limit ecological damage in Alberta

Specialized detection dogs are following their noses and protecting Alberta from invasive zebra and quagga mussels.

Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

CALGARY – Five special dogs are taking part in a newly launched pilot program aimed at stopping ecological damage to waterways in Alberta.

The canines have undergone training in California to help them sniff out two types of invasive mussels that stick to boats.

Both zebra and quagga mussels are virtually impossible to eradicate and can cause millions of dollars in damage to irrigation, water treatment infrastructure, as well as significant harm to Alberta’s aquatic ecosystems.

In total, an infestation of invasive mussels is estimated to cost the province more than $75 million annually.

“Zebra and quagga mussels pose a huge ecological and financial threat to Alberta,” says Robin Campbell, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “So we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to stop their spread.”

The dogs will work 10 days on each side of the Alberta-Montana border.

Officials say the Mussel Detection Pilot is the first of its kind in Canada.

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