What do elephant poachers, salamanders, ground squirrels, turtles, rare plants, and invasive aquatic species all have in common? Well, depending on which one we're talking about they either have an incredible friend, or a fierce enemy.
These "Conservation Canines" and their friends are on the job with four legs and some nose power you wouldn't believe. From sniffing out invasive species in Canada to tracking down poachers in Africa these dogs can sense the smallest of indications that something is amiss or that their quarry is nearby.
Here's but a small sample of what man's best friend can do with love, training, and a work ethic that puts us all to shame.
With poachers decimating populations of the last remaining elephants and rhinos, wildlife rangers need all the help they can get and tracking down criminals is second nature to these amazing bloodhounds.
Oregon's Willamette valley is home to three rare things- the threatened Kincaid's lupine, the endangered Fender's blue butterfly, and Rogue, a four-year-old Belgian sheepdog with a nose for finding both.
Ridley Ranger, who has his own Facebook page, is on the job down on North Padre Island, Texas finding the rare Kemp's ridley turtle nest so biologists can collect and protect her eggs for future generations.
This beautiful canine named Captain is just what the endangered Washington ground squirrel was looking for, or should we say is looking for them. The Boardman Grasslands harbor no less than seven extremely rare species of plants, including one viable population of these ground squirrels.
Another awesome dog named Frehley is helping, nose first, to find and protect the rare Jemez Mountain Salamander found only one place on earth: north-central New Mexico.
Hilo (cover photo) and Diesel are a pair of extraordinary canines whose job it is to sniff out invasive aquatic boat riders that might hitch a ride on unsuspecting boats. With more than 180 invasive species entering the Great Lakes system in the past century it's not a problem, it's an invasion!
Humans have long known the importance and value of a dog's nose. With the outdoors men and women of the world spending their time and money enjoying the beauty and recreation that our world offers, it's certainly time to put our best foot forward and support conservation efforts like these.
When North America is safe from invasive species, loss of habitat, and even extinctions that can be avoided the outdoor world is a better place for everyone.
Photos via Nature Conservancy