PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon State Police recently gained another dog in the fight against poaching.
Troopers announced Wednesday that Scout, an 18-month-old black lab, and his handler Trooper Shae Ross are the newest members of the K-9 anti-poaching team, also known as the wildlife detection team.
Before the addition of Scout and Ross, the only members of the team were K-9 Buck and Senior Trooper Josh Wolcott. The first team was established in 2019.
Buck and Wolcott have been based in Springfield, but Scout and Ross will be in Bend – allowing Oregon State Police to expand poaching prevention to Central Oregon.
“Adding another wildlife detection K-9 team provides another asset to our division to address poaching issues and increase awareness across the state,” said OSP Fish & Wildlife Division Captain Casey Thomas.
He said adding a second team will increase the program’s efficiency and require the current team to travel less.
Since the first anti-poaching team was formed, Buck and Wolcot have conducted several poaching investigations and logged hundreds of hours in the field. Their effectiveness is what led OSP to approve the addition of a second team. Donations from the Oregon Wildlife Foundation have helped cover the costs of the program expansion.
According to OSP, K-9s trained to prevent and investigate poaching cases can detect firearms associated with odors and find wildlife that was illegally killed. They can also detect related evidence and help with arresting suspects.
The dogs use their scenting ability to help them quickly find concealed evidence. This is useful if poachers try to hide the game they killed or firearms they used. They are trained to detect deer, elk, bear, turkey, waterfowl and salmon.
While Buck and Scout are both Labrador retrievers, OSP said wildlife conservation K-9s can be any breed.
Both dogs attended training in Indiana where they learned to search for missing hunters or hikers, locate illegally killed wildlife, and find physical evidence left behind at various incident locations.
They are required to pass annual certification tests every year.
The dogs know how to work in wooded areas, fields, sagebrush, bodies of water, vehicles and buildings.