Hawaii Conservation Conference

In July of 2019, Conservation Dogs of Hawai’i and Dr. Michelle Reynolds (formerly of USGS) sponsored a Conservation Dog Symposium featuring 8 speakers with a variety of backgrounds and experience working with ecological detection dogs. Please read more about the conference, symposium and guest speakers below.

26th Annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference – July 9-11, 2019 in Honolulu

He ʻaʻaliʻi ku makani au: Resilience in the Face of Change

The Hawai ʻi Conservation Conference allows a diverse group of scientists, policymakers, conservation practitioners, educators, students and community members from Hawaiʻi and the Pacific to converge and discuss conservation. It’s a time to connect, share and inspire, all with the common goal of caring for our natural resources. 

The Hawaiian ʻōlelo no ʻeau (Hawaiian Proverb) “He ʻA ʻali ʻi kū makani mai au; ʻa ʻohe makani nana e kula ʻi” translates literally to “I am a wind-resisting ʻA ʻali ʻi; no gale can push me over”. This boast of the ʻa ʻali ʻi, Dodonaea viscosa, speaks of both strength and persistence in the face of difficulty. Just like the ʻa ʻali ʻi tree, we need to make sure our base or foundation is firmly grounded to support our growth as stewards. When pushed, discouraged or challenged we will bounce back stronger than ever.

Conservation Dog Symposium – Conservation’s Best Friend? Detection dog’s utility, efficacy, and science explored

Trained detection canines can greatly aid conservation, and new applications are constantly emerging. However, dogs have not been utilized broadly in Hawaii for conservation purposes, yet. By training dogs on specific scents, dogs can help find elusive “targets” such as avian botulism carcasses and early fungus infections in trees, provide rapid response to new accidental introductions (invasive weeds, rats and mongoose), and aid research and provide data on cryptic and endangered species. This symposium will explore how detection dogs might be integrated to assist land managers with a variety of crises impacting our island ecosystems. Experimental applications, pilot studies, lessons learned, funding models, considerations for dog selection and training, limitations, and examples from Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific will be presented at this exciting symposium featuring conservation detection dog projects and international experts. A forum with select Hawaii project proposals utilizing detection dog applications may follow and audience questions relating to the specific proposals.

Guest Speakers and Presentations for the Conservation Dog Symposium

International and Mainland Speakers

Miriam Ritchie, dog trainer/handler and certifier with New Zealand Department of Conservation: New Zealand Department of Conservation’s Pest Detecting Dog Programme. Pest targets include rodents, mustelids, and cats in remote islands and cargo ships.

Andrew Glaser, dog trainer/handler and certifier with New Zealand Department of Conservation: Protected Species Detection Dog Trianed to Locate Multiple Threatened Species in New Zealand.”  Target species include whio (blue duck), an endemic, threatened waterfowl in New Zealand that serves as an indicator species of healthy waters.

Lauralea Oliver, dog trainer/handler for K9 InScentive and lead K9 trainer for HT Harvey & Associates Ecological Consultants: “Scent Detection Dogs as a Tool for Species Monitoring and Impact Study at Renewable Energy Sites.” In addition to training dogs for bat/bird carcasses, Lauralea has trained dogs for a variety of targets and applications including animal scat, endangered reptiles like giant garter snake and California tiger salamander, and invasive fungus.

William Wei-Lien Chi, detection dog trainer from Taiwan: “Training Dogs to Detect Imported Fire Ants.” William has trained dogs to detect a variety of targets including tree root disease, avian botulism, and fire ants.

Julian Mendel PhD, researcher with University of Florida: “The Use of Scent Discriminating Canines for the Early Detection and Management of Plant Diseases.” Plant diseases include laurel wilt disease and Rapid ʻōhiʻa Death.

Hawai‘i Speakers

Nicole Galase, biologist: “Detector Dog (and other methods) Lead to the First Confirmed Band-rumped Storm Petrel Colony in the Hawaiian Islands,” a project that was sponsored by Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands.

Kealoha Kinney PhD, research ecologist with US Forestry Service: “Scent Discriminating Canines as an Additional Tool in the Fight Against Rapid ʻōhiʻa Death.” Kealoha will share results from initial trials conducted with a dog trained to detect the scent of ROD fungus using an innovative odor training aid technology.

Michelle Reynolds PhD, research biologist with US Geological Survey: “Efficacy of Detection Canines for Avian Botulism Surveillance and Mitigation at Hanalei Wildlife Refuge.” Dogs were trained to find the carcasses of endangered Hawaiian duck, which if undetected, can spread avian botulism. Our lead K9 trainer Kyoko Johnson participated in this study from 2017-2018.