DEEP: Dogs can sniff out illegally caught fish

Police dogs working for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s conservation police are now trained to detect illegally caught fish, according to the state agency.

The DEEP Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police said officers and their Labrador Retriever partners have completed three weeks of fish detection training offered by the Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit and will be demonstrating their detection abilities at DEEP’s Marine Headquarters this Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m. the Marine Headquarters is located at 333 Ferry Road in Old Lyme.

The training is the first of its kind within the New England State Police Administrator Compact. No fish and game detection training curriculum existed within NESPAC until this training program, according to the DEEP. In the future, the unit will also be trained to detect game species as well as fish.

“Fish and game detection canines have been used throughout the country to assist officers in combating illegal fishing, hunting, and trapping,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “It is a credit to our EnCon officers that they were interested in working with their dogs to expand their abilities and importance to the agency. These canines and their handlers will be a valuable asset when it comes to protecting the state’s natural resources.”

The canines have been trained to detect certain species of sport fish that are commonly caught in Connecticut, such as trout and striped bass. The canines were trained to search on vessels, under rocks, along shorelines, and other places illegally taken fish could be hidden.

The officers and their canine partners, Officer Holly Bernier and Saydee, Officer William Logiodice and Ruger, and Officer Karen Reilly and Hunter, went through three weeks of vigorous training. They were originally certified in tracking and evidence recovery in June 2012. DEEP obtained the dogs from Connecticut Labrador Rescue Inc., in Haddam.