Many of us have been involved in a wildlife accident at some point. It is an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Accidents happen all year round, 24 hours a day. On all these occasions, there is a search team ready to take on the task of reducing the suffering of wildlife. We go out 24 hours a day, rain or shine, without knowing the conditions or how long we will need to be out before the mission is completed. You may have seen a hunter walking along the road with his four-legged companion.
In case of an accident:
(The obligation applies to: moose, deer, stag, wild boar, bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx, otter, eagle and mouflon sheep. Failure to report a wildlife accident involving these animals is a criminal offense. It is classified as a hit-and-run accident and can result in a fine. You also need to report if you have hit a reindeer, although reindeer are not considered wildlife).
– Call SOS Alarm 112 (download the 112 app to provide exact coordinates).
– Mark the site of the accident with a marking strip or, for example, a plastic bag.
– Respond to a call from the hunter for further information.
Do you recognize the sign?
There are two types of missions we searchers go on. Site visits and searches.
A site visit reveals a dead animal near the road. Then we come and take care of it. Often we can park under cover and don’t have to be in the way for more than a short time. This sign therefore does not always appear even once.
But if the police call us to do a search, then the animal has left the scene. This means we need to work along the road with our beloved dogs. A wild animal may be nearby and run across the road again, causing new accidents if you as a driver do not slow down.
For example, a game animal that walks on three legs or has a damaged jaw can move fast and far. Usually the game also moves back, crouching, to get away. Such a game is difficult to track, so we may need to release a dog to stop the game and so
be able to end the suffering as soon as possible. This means that wildlife and dogs at high speed can get back on the road. If we are unlucky. Sometimes we don’t want to let our dogs out because there is so much traffic, and they drive too fast – despite the signs. This means that the wildlife cannot be reached – and has to move on with an injury and painfully meet its fate instead.
What is the difference between searching and tracking?
Having the goal of working as a search team with your dog is good, but you have to realize that it is a big responsibility. It is the responsibility of those who are contacted during a search for wildlife that has been shot or hit by a car to do their best to reduce the suffering of the injured wildlife.
Tracking is much more than a form of activation as so many people think, it is an advanced work that requires a lot of experience from both dog and handler.
A game trail is a combination of lots of scents, a search for injured game often means that the dog has to sort through many different game on the trail – which game releases stress hormones? Which game is to be followed?
A game trail has straight stretches and distinct angles, a search can involve crossing streams, crawling under barbed wire fences along country roads, and navigating terrain that you didn’t think was possible. Often the game does not bleed, so markings can be difficult to find. Maybe the animal has a broken leg? That doesn’t stop it from making mile after mile, which is hardly enough to keep up with a regular tracking dog. Often it is also dark outside when you are tracking.
So we can see game trails as an excellent form of activation, while searches are more of an expert’s job to reduce the suffering of injured game. Even if you don’t intend to do practical searches, more advanced training after the regular game trail tests is a really fun challenge for both you and your dog.
If you are interested in reading more about wildlife tracking and tracing, you can do so in the book Wildlife Tracking & Tracing.
– you become a team on the trail.
Good luck with your training and drive safely in traffic!