Pushing through dense bush, Brad Windust and short-haired pointer Wero are on a mission. Their target is between 40 to 80mm in length, it’s thin and it tapers towards a twist at each end.
Wero’s on high alert, he’s smelt the target’s musk and he increases his pace before disappearing from view. With the GPS tracker vibrating, Brad catches up to his companion, who’s crouching above the leaf-littered forest floor astride a mossy branch.
Wero indicates that he’s found what the duo was hunting for: stoat droppings, and inside the hollow branch of a pūriri, a stoat nest.
The two-year-old pointer, a fully certified conservation dog specialising in cat and stoat scat detection, gets his reward: ball-time.
This week, Wero and Brad are on Waiheke to assist with the island-wide stoat eradication.
Stoats use their scat (another name for poo) to communicate and mark their territory, often pooing in or near their dens, and with his highly-trained snout, Wero can sniff out their droppings, helping to indicate the location of a den. • Sophie Boladeras
Full story this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!