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Sniffer dog on tail of harvest mice

Wednesday September 23rd 2015

A specially trained sniffer dog is to help track down elusive harvest mice in Northamptonshire.

Tui, a flat-coated retriever, will be taught to detect the scent of the mice, which are thought to have declined in numbers in the past 40 years.

While cereal fields, reed beds and hedgerows are known to be the main habitat of the harvest mouse, its diminutive stature makes it hard to find.

Researcher Emily Howard-Williams, of Moulton College, is heading the innovative project across the county and hopes that training Tui will make tracking the mammals a lot easier and much more efficient.

A similar scheme was recently used in New Zealand to seek out kiwis, where two English setters managed to sniff out 30 of the flightless birds in the space of just four days.

Changes to farming and the way habitats are managed are thought to have sparked a decline in the harvest mouse population, yet so far there have been no reliable studies to assess the exact cause.The new project aims to shed some light on the matter.

Copyright Press Association 2015