LIFE WolfAlps EU Anti-poison Dog Units operational in the fight against poaching
During 2021 and the first months of 2022, intensive training was carried out to make the Anti-poison Dog Units (UCA) created within LIFE WolfAlps EU operational in Italy and Austria, two of the four Alpine countries involved in the project. The training made use of the results and methodologies developed during the previous LIFE WolfAlps project, and of the experience of the Carabinieri dog training centre in Florence (for Carabinieri military force). A total of 7 new Anti-poison Dog Units were established.
In Italy there are 6 new operational UPDUs, of which two in Liguria, one in Piedmont, two in Lombardy and one in Veneto. In particular, the Comando Unità Forestali, Ambientali e Agroalimentari dell’Arma dei Carabinieri, project partner, directly manages three APDUs: in Liguria, Lombardy and Veneto. The second Lombardy unit is the result of a collaboration between the Lombardy Region and the Brescia Provincial Police, project supporter. The Management Authority of the Protected Areas of the Maritime Alps set up the Piedmont unit run by a professional dog trainer and the Ligurian unit with the collaboration of the Wildlife and Environmental Surveillance Unit of the Liguria Region.
The new Italian teams flank the four Anti-poison Dog Units set up under the previous LIFE WolfAlps project, made up of personnel from the Metropolitan City of Turin, park rangers from the Cottian Alps Protected Areas Management Authority, and soldiers from the Cuneo and Omegna Forestry Carabinieri.
In Austria the unit is formed by the Wien Veterinary University, Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien, project partner.
The dog units thus distributed throughout the territory guarantee a wide range of action against the use of poisoned baits, which not only represent one of the most serious threats to the conservation of the wolf, but also pose a risk to numerous other wild species as well as to pets, such as dogs and cats.
For the perfect functioning of the unit, it is essential that a solid alliance and mutual understanding between dog and handler is created, through a training course that varies in length depending on the dog’s age and the handler’s training, and can last up to 12 months in the case of a puppy.
There are several breeds of dogs suitable for this type of activity and that are represented in the LIFE WolfAlps EU and LIFE WolfAlps dog units: the Malinois shepherd, the Espagnol Breton, the Australian shepherd and the drahthaar, a German breed of hard-coated stationary dog used for the three new APUDs.
The new APDUs have already gone into action following several reports and in several regions, successfully completing inspections, in some cases in cooperation with the K-9 units of the former LIFE WolfAlps.
Within the LIFE WolfAlps EU project, information materials have been developed which we invite you to consult and disseminate.
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Download the brochure on poisoning.