Guest Post: Detection Dogs Advancing Conservation Efforts

Nov 12, 2019 | Aquatic Invasive Species

River Alliance of Wisconsin recently partnered with Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. to create a fun, informative video on “Doggie Decon,” which demonstrates how to clean your canine after time on the water to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. We are pleased to welcome them as guest authors on our blog!

Detection dogs are capable of incredible things. Around the globe, they assist humans in a number of tasks, including search and rescue, military operations, and medical detection. While many people are aware of these types of detection dogs, they’re unaware of their growing use in conservation. 

Conservation detection dogs use their powerful sense of smell and desire to work to help the environment.

They can:

  • Detect plants and animals on land and in water before it can be seen by the human eye.
  • Conduct efficient searches in a matter of minutes that would take a human hours.
  • Give instant results with professional accuracy. 
  • Survey for multiple species simultaneously.   

Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. (MCDI) is a Milwaukee-based nonprofit specializing in deployment of professional scent detection teams to aid ecological conservation in the Midwest. 

The organization has two pillars: field work and education. The field work teams assist researchers, public and private organizations, and ecological agencies to locate targets such as invasive species, rare or endangered species, and wildlife diseases. In addition, newly launched initiatives such as the MCDI Pollinator Program prioritize support of pollinator conservation. Consisting of 3 professional detection dogs (soon to be 4 after our youngster, K9 Betty, completes her foundation training in 2020), their current field work teams can handle a workload of up to fifty different target odors.

MCDI’s education crew enhances youth education by bringing ecology and scent detection science into the classroom for K-12 students. The organization also has a passion for assisting college-level students through the research and mentorship program, Sniffers for Scholars

The incredible power of a dog’s nose allows MCDI’s involvement in research and conservation to have many benefits, including reducing labor costs and increasing productivity for organizations. The field work teams can cover more ground in less time than most traditional survey methods. The canines can detect scents without using chemicals or expensive equipment and are non-invasive, which means they can conduct vital research without harming the environment. 

MCDI feels a great sense of responsibility when it comes to assisting aquatic conservation; a huge priority for Wisconsin. Our state has more than 12,000 rivers and streams that meander their way through 84,000 miles of varying terrain. These rivers connect over 15,000 lakes and more than 5 million wetland acres. The connectivity of the landscape water provides is profound, and species of all kinds use waterways as a natural highway. 

Whether searching for invasive species or locating rare species like turtles, MCDI looks forward to pulling on waders and lending a hand (and paw!) to continue their conservation contribution. 

Learn More

Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. is a registered nonprofit, always seeking ways to connect with the community to gain support. To learn more about MCDI, you can follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Or visit to learn more and support this organization to continue their important work in conservation.