September 22, 2016 6:02 pm
Updated: September 22, 2016 6:04 pm

Sniffer dogs used to search for destructive weed in Calgary’s Fish Creek park

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

Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

Alberta’s sniffer dogs are on the hunt for a new target, but the “weed” the members of Alberta’s Conservation K9 Unit are looking for won’t be found on the luggage carousel at the international airport.

Instead, the dogs are scouring Calgary’s Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The program, which previously used the dogs to sniff out destructive invasive species such as mussels attached to boats, is expanding.

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READ MORE: Sniffer dogs help limit ecological damage in Alberta

The head of the program, Cindy Sawchuk, says the new target is the plant Thesium arvense — a perennial herb native to central China and central Europe that has somehow found its way into the sprawling park in south Calgary.

The weed, which grows close to the ground, acts as a parasite, taking its nourishment from native species.

Sawchuk says starting next spring the dogs will help identify where the Thesium arvense is growing, which will lead to a plan to eliminate the weed.

READ MORE: Are airport sniffer dogs keeping flyers safe? Many fail to detect explosives, reports say

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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