IGTOA Donates $25,000 to Train a K-9 Sniffer Dog Unit to Detect Invasive Species


This year, IGTOA and its member companies were proud to contribute $80,000 to four organizations working on the front lines of Galapagos conservation. WildAid received a $25,000 grant to train a K-9 sniffer dog unit and its handlers and build kennels to house the unit on Santa Cruz. The dogs will be stationed at ports of entry and will help detect invasive species. The following is a thank you letter from WildAid that explains how IGTOA's funds will be used to safeguard and protect the Galapagos Islands in the coming year

Dear IGTOA Members,

The greatest threat to biodiversity in the Galápagos Islands is the introduction of invasive species. Once a species is introduced, it may be too late or costly to implement a successful eradication program and irreversible damage may occur to native or endemic species of plants, animals, or insects. In recent years the biological isolation of the archipelago has been significantly reduced given the growing number of planes and cargo reaching the islands. As tourism and population numbers increase exponentially, so do the threats of introducing invasive species.  

Currently, WildAid is working with the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG) to reduce the ability of invasive species to reach the islands, including the creation of awareness among locals and tourists on doing their part to prevent the introduction of invasive species. IGTOA's funds will help the ABG implement a K9 sniffer dog unit consisting of four dogs to improve detection of illegal goods. Thus far, we have carried out two peer-to-peer exchanges with the Chilean Agriculture Department in order to create a plan to establish a K9 unit in the Galapagos. To date, four K-9s have procured in the US and imported into Ecuador. In addition, the ABG has elaborated designs for the K-9 kennels. This unit is the first of its kind in Ecuador, used for invasive species control, although K9s have previously been used to detect illegal shark fins and other endangered species products. The K9s will be stationed at customs and declaration zones at airports and we plan to implement the program in January 2017. 

The $25K from IGTOA will be invested for training of four dogs and their handlers as well as the construction of kennels in Santa Cruz. 

Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.

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