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Wildlife officials training new K-9 unit for search and rescue missions

Search dog
Photo courtesy of the American Rescue Dog Association

Officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks are training a new K-9 unit to assist conservation officers with search and rescue missions as well as wildlife detection tasks.

A four-member team, the unit will have one representative from the northern, central, and southern districts of the state with wildlife officer Larry Primeaux and his dog heading the unit.

Of the four dogs being trained to assist in searching for lost individuals, three are labs and one is a German shorthaired pointer.

The unit is currently at Camp Shelby undergoing a three-month-long process of having the canines certified to detect and find lost humans. They are also being instructed on how to sniff out odors related to conservation to locate invasive species and at-risk species and to help lead officers to the scene of a possible wildlife crime.

Primeaux is optimistic about the team as they continue training the dogs.

“We have a lot to live up to,” Primeaux said on SuperTalk Outdoors with Ricky Mathews. “We have a good team and I think we’re doing a really good job with training.”

The dogs undergoing training are between 18 months and two years old. The department is hoping to get over a decade of service out of the four-legged friends as they will be given roles that are not as taxing on them as other dogs in law enforcement.

“You want to get that puppy stage out of the dogs. You don’t want the dogs chewing on stuff and playing a bunch,” Primeaux said. “These dogs are more mature now. They’re older. We should get about 10-12 years out of these dogs. All they’re doing is search and rescue and wildlife detection. They’re not doing all the other stuff a typical police dog would do.”

The new K-9 unit is expected to be certified at some point this fall. Once the unit is able to perform tasks, they will assist local officers in all areas of the state in locating lost hunters and ensuring that individuals are not breaking the state’s conservation laws.

The full interview with Primeaux can be watched below.

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