Posted: Thu 9th Feb 2023

Meet Jinx the spaniel who is working to protect precious bird colonies in Wales by sniffing out rats

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 9th, 2023

Wales’ coastlines are globally known for breeding seabirds, which include the iconic puffin, Kittiwakes, Black-headed Gulls, and Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns.

A new weapon has been added to the fight to protect these precious bird species on small islands off the Welsh coast.

Meet Jinx, a spaniel with a nose for sniffing out rats has been unveiled as the UK’s first “conservation detection dog”, with the aim to keep the islands clear of rats, which can decimate bird populations.

The three-year-old working cocker spaniel, has been in training with RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) for the last two years to sniff out rats.

He has been designated the task of detecting rats on islands like Skomer, famous for its puffin colonies, by the Minister for Climate Change, Julie James.

When left undisturbed, invasive species can cause severe damage to already threatened seabird species.

A single pregnant rat can produce a colony of over 300 in just eight months, and as rats are expert hunters, they can quickly eat eggs, chicks, and even adult birds.

Welsh Government has provided £250,000 as part of a new project to expand biosecurity in Wales and includes the use of Jinx.

However, he will not be directly responsible for tackling any rats found, but simply detect them and it will then be up to his human handlers to decide on the next course of action.

Emily Williams, Senior Marine Policy Officer, RSPB Cymru said: “We are delighted that Jinx will be continuing his work on biosecurity through this new project, which builds upon the work of Biosecurity for LIFE.”

“Biosecurity is a vital element of seabird conservation, at a time when seabirds need our help more than ever.”

“Coupled with the developing Welsh seabird conservation strategy and marine environmental planning, we can turn the tide for seabirds in Wales.”

Jinx’s role highlights the crucial importance of biosecurity in the protection of Wales’ seabirds, as well as the various threats the birds face, including climate change, invasive species, unsustainable fisheries, marine development, and pandemics such as the recent Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu.

Minister for Climate Change, Julie James said: “Protecting our seabirds and balancing our precious ecosystems is all of our responsibility as we face the climate and nature emergencies.”

“We can help Jinx do his job properly by being vigilant to critters on our clothes, invasive species in our rucksacks or mammalian hunters who hitchhike a lift when we visit these islands.”

“Please report anything suspicious immediately.”

 

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