DNR adds third K-9 unitThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is adding a third canine unit to its ranks. The dog and his handler will be based out of Hastings.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is adding a third canine unit to its ranks. The dog and his handler will be based out of Hastings.
K-9 Axel and conservation officer Pat McGowan have completed nearly 12 weeks of human tracking, obedience and evidence search field training.
The dog comes in “green” said Lt. Todd Kanieski, K-9 unit coordinator. “This allows us to train him how we want him.”
The DNR working dog model is muchlike the civilian law enforcement patrol model: a dog of steady, stable character that is capable of controlled aggression under certain circumstances, such as on command, when attacked or when the handler is attacked. Conservation officers typically work alone in a 650-square-mile patrol area.
The added dimension of a DNR K-9 is the ability to sniff out game and fish violations, a force multiplier noted Kanieski.
“Searching for trace blood evidence or a shell casing in a large field or wooded area could take multiple officers several hours, but with the right K-9 team, that task can be done in minutes and the area would be more thoroughly searched,” Kanieski said.
The K-9s are a small part of the DNR Enforcement Division, relying primarily on private donations from organizations with a heavy interest in conservation education and humanitarian projects to support the program.
Axel comes courtesy of a $9,500 donation from the Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International.
Funds to assist with the acquisition of a K-9 are raised through SCI chapter fundraisers soliciting raffle merchandise from mostly outdoors hunting and fishing outfitters, firearms manufacturers and wildlife artists.
According to Kanieski, the DNR K-9 program is more important than ever. “We have had great success at finding fish/game evidence and shell casings in the field. That evidence helps us in protecting our natural resources. A K-9 makes sure of that.”