Blackfeet project takes dogs to find CWD

Rob Chaney

Some working dogs sniff for birds, or drugs, or lost skiers. Souta Calling Last’s pack will put their noses to disease.

With help from an Environmental Protection Agency environmental justice grant, Calling Last’s Indigenous Voices organization and Working Dogs for Conservation will deploy trained dogs to find deposits of chronic wasting disease — the deadly and infectious wildlife scourge threatening deer and elk in Montana.

Along the way, they may find hidden toxic waste dumps and other environmental hazards that put people’s health at risk.

“As a Blackfeet woman, I’m super thrilled to be with working dogs,” Calling Last said. “Dogs have always helped with our lodges and families, and now in modern times they’re helping protect our food system.”

The dogs will be trained to sniff out microscopic proteins called prions that cause the neurological damage known as chronic wasting disease in wild ungulates. It’s similar to scabies in domestic sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. Prions shed from infected animals can remain dangerous for at least two years in soil.

People are also reading…

That raises the risk it might be taken up by plants such as sweetgrass, sage,

View Source