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Observations from the Use of Dogs to Undertake Carcass Searches at Wind Facilities in Australia

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Wind and Wildlife

Abstract

Mortality searches for bird and bat carcasses at wind farms in Australia are becoming increasingly common. Dogs are used to detect biological scents in a number of fields and their use for bird and bat carcass monitoring at wind farms is growing globally; however this methodology has not been adopted so readily in Australia. This paper details general findings and survey techniques relating to the use of dogs learned from 8 years of field work and over 5,500 surveys. I have identified a number of factors which can influence detection ability and efficiency, including the relationship between the handler and the dog; weather conditions; topography; vegetation and target species. In addition, methodology which recognises the need to be flexible in the field is essential for maintaining consistent accuracy. Based on my observations trained dogs are more accurate (higher detection) and efficient (faster) then human searchers and as training costs do not need to be high, are an affordable alternative to humans. The use of dogs has clear advantages for detecting small birds and bats, on steep and heavily vegetated sites, where high accuracy is important, where threatened or endangered species are a concern, and at large sites with large areas to survey. Formal monitoring programs to quantify the influence of environmental factors on the dogs’ accuracy and efficiency would be welcome in Australia.

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Correspondence to Emma Bennett .

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Bennett, E. (2015). Observations from the Use of Dogs to Undertake Carcass Searches at Wind Facilities in Australia. In: Hull, C., Bennett, E., Stark, E., Smales, I., Lau, J., Venosta, M. (eds) Wind and Wildlife. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9490-9_7

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