Dogs With Unique Training To Help Round Up Rare Turtles

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Specially-trained dogs from Montana are coming to Iowa to help round up a rare and threatened turtle species.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the Bur Oak Land Trust is coordinating the project this spring to help gather the ornate box turtle, Iowa’s only native terrestrial turtle.

The turtles are listed as “threatened” in Iowa, and the trust wants to preserve a small population in Johnson County.

So the trust called on John Rucker, a Montana dog trainer and turtle expert, along with his Boykin spaniels. When the dogs find a box turtle, they will bring it unharmed to researchers for weighing, shell measuring and photos.

The data is important for tracking the turtles’ health and location, along with managing habitat to improve survival rates. A state grant provides funding.

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