Specially Trained Dogs Help Save Rare Turtles In Iowa

Specially Trained Dogs Save Rare Turtles In Iowa
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Specially-trained dogs have made their way from Montana and are doing their best to save rare threatened turtle species.

The Bur Oak Trust is managing this project to help collect the ornate turtle. This is Iowa’s only native turtle. The trust plans to segregate a small number of turtles in Johnson County.

“It’s hard to see the reduction in their environment in Eastern Iowa,” stated Jason Taylor.

Sandy Prairie is an ideal place to build houses. Removing the rare turtles is illegal in this place, but some poach them to sell it as pets.

The trust plans to hire the services of a Montana trainer named John Rucker who’s also a turtle expert. He will be accompanied by his Boykin Spaniel.

Rucker was initially training dogs to catch birds when one dog brought a turtle lightly gripped.

He uses the box turtle shells to train the dog. In Iowa, whenever a dog locates a turtle, they will gently bring it unharmed for pictures, shell measuring, and weighing.

This information is vital for locating the turtles, along with handling habitats. These projects are done with the help of grants from the Iowa DNR Management program.

In a study, Rucker’s dog discovered 85 turtles compared to human’s 12.

Rucker, further said, “ The turtles are difficult to find. Even if we manage to gather 10 this spring, it should a good season for us.”

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