These Noses Helps Scientist Know

April 3, 2012  

In about 10 weeks, 4 dogs can sniff out and locate 1,500 scat samples of caribou, wolf and moose. That’s a lot of scat.

It might be a game for the dogs, but it’s serious research for Statoil Canada. The company recently received the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s Environment Performance Award for the development of the Scat Dog Program. This unique monitoring program has been in place for the last three winters in the oil sands region of northern Alberta.

The scat samples are examined by scientists to help determine what moose, wolf and caribou in the area are eating and where they are travelling. The scientists are also trying to assess how healthy each population is through DNA-based measures of population abundance and hormone-based measures of psychological, reproductive and nutritional health. Ultimately, the scientists hope to share their research results and suggest better ways to help manage the impact of resource development on wildlife.