This fall has been a very busy season. We welcomed another family member to our home, a red heeler mix named Annie. She is not being trained for anything at this time, but Kota is trying to teach her bad habits. We have not been able to work in the field this fall, but training has still been going on. There is a family group of coyotes living close to us, so there are plenty of opportunities to practice finding scents and scat. Kota has the other two dogs following him down the trails left by the coyotes in the snow and smelling all the scent posts and scat piles he finds. I know he isn’t purposely training the other two to find coyotes, but they are learning. We also have had the pleasure of having mountain lions close to the house this month. Annie is very afraid of them and will let me know immediately if she catches the scent of one. She might turn out to be better working with mountain lions than Kota, only time will tell.
Kota has also been learning the ropes of being a demonstration dog for my dog obedience classes.
He is trying really hard to do everything correctly and seems to enjoy showing off for other dog owners. He is impressing clients by being so focused on me and what I am telling him.
Kota did it!
We have been training to find mountain lion scent with Kota and I haven’t been seeing much progress, but the other day he proved me wrong! We didn’t find a mountain lion, but rather a bobcat trail. A family contacted our office with a concern about a cat like creature on their property. Bobcats are not common in this area of North Dakota, but observations have been increasing. When we got to the property, the owner pointed out that the cat creature was seen in the field and in the trees adjacent to the field, so down we walked to the area pointed out. It didn’t take long at all for us to start finding sign of predators in the area. Kota pointed out the coyote scat in the field about a minute after walking into it. Not what we were looking for, but good all the same. Then the bobcat trail caught his attention and he walked into the trees and proceeded to find a nice pile of bobcat scat. It was not too hard to determine what made this pile of poo. This was a major accomplishment for Kota! The trail this animal was using was evident, so the next day game cameras were placed in the area for visual conformation. The cameras will be picked up this week and the photos reviewed. Lets keep our fingers crossed we get some good images!
Now that Katie is gone, Kota is beginning to take over her duties.
Spring is a busy time in the wildlife field. We have been busy starting surveys, creating documents, and of course cutting grass. Our office is located within a small park, and cutting grass is a never ending job. Kota tries to help, whether it is digging holes for replacement fence posts, making sure there are no field mice returning to the grass behind the person with the weed trimmer, or putting the deck on the riding mower. Today we started waterfowl surveys. This is where we walk around and through wetlands to flush up the waterfowl to count. Counts are used for creating hunting limits and assessing habitat quality, the more waterfowl, the better. Kota did a great job! At first he was unsure what I wanted him to do, but soon caught on. When we first arrived at the first marshy area we didn’t see many waterfowl. I instructed Kota to begin flushing – he ran through the water and cattails like a crazy dog, making huge circles back to me. It didn’t take long before the waterfowl emerged. Our helpers were on the shore identifying the birds that flushed from Kota’s erratic running. My job today was to keep Kota focused in the right areas.
Kota also learned to swim today. He was trying to stay in the shallow water, but in the excitement got himself out in deeper water. At first he panicked, but soon figured out how to move his legs in the deeper water. From that point on, it didn’t matter where the running lead – he was having so much fun while doing his job!
Kota is being trained to located mountain lion scent. We are getting calls to do this across the state, so I am hoping he catches on quickly! His job will be to point out mountain lion trails, scat, and scent posts, not to chase them or tree them. This will help our office to locate mountain lion trails so that we can monitor areas for lions. Already he is following in Katie’s footsteps and is picking out coyote sign, so I might cross train him for that too. There is so much for him to learn!