Gateway Gazette

Four-legged friends join in Alberta’s fight against invasive mussels

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

Sniffer Dog at Alberta BorderThe Alberta – Montana Canine Mussel Detection Pilot is the first of its kind in Canada and uses highly trained specialized dogs on both sides of the border to sniff out zebra and quagga mussels attached to boats.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of such an innovative endeavour. Zebra and quagga mussels pose a huge ecological and financial threat to Alberta; so we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity to stop their spread – including using specially trained dogs.”

~ Robin Campbell, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

The Alberta government has teamed up with Montana’s Flathead Basin Commission and Department of Natural Resource Conservation, the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association and Working Dogs for Conservation to deliver this unique pilot project.

The dogs have undergone specialized training, funded by the Alberta and Montana governments. They are trained in California with that state’s Fish and Wildlife department to identify zebra and quagga mussels.

Five dogs took the training and will be will be working 10 days on each side of the border.

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. An infestation of invasive mussels is estimated to cost the province more than $75 million annually – including damage to infrastructure and recreational opportunities.

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