World's only ant-sniffing dog rooting out invasive species in California

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, Calif. (KABC) -- The world is full of dogs that sniff out problems.

There are drug sniffing dogs, explosive sniffing dogs and cadaver dogs just to name a few, but now you can add "ant-sniffing dog" to that list.

For the past three months the Nature Conservancy has been using Tobias, the world's only ant-sniffing dog, in its war against an Argentine ant infestation on the Channel Islands.

Tobias is a 3-year-old yellow lab trained to find the invasive ant species, which the Nature Conservancy now says has most likely been eradicated from Santa Cruz Island after a nine-year effort.

"Argentine ants are hitchhikers. They tend to hitchhike on materials that humans bring around the world," said Christina Boser of the Nature Conservancy. "They swarm and certainly do bite. They're not nice ants."

Boser said the ants had been running rampant on Santa Cruz Island for several decades, displacing native species, but with the help of Tobias and his handler, Kyren Zimmerman of the group Working Dogs for Conservation, her agency is close to confirming most if not all of the ants on the island have been killed.

Zimmerman and the dog spent three months on Santa Cruz Island, scouring roughly 10,000 acres for the ants.

"Our linear mileage was close to 150 kilometers," said Zimmerman. "That's a lot of hiking around for sure."

Zimmerman and Tobias are soon headed to San Clemente Island to check for the dreaded ants there.
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