Training Dogs to Sniff out Stink Bugs

Australia’s biosecurity detector dogs now have their noses honed on one of the nation’s most unwanted exotic pests - the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).


The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) has been working with the University of New England to train sniffer dogs to detect the serious pest known as Stink Bugs (BMSB) in sea cargo. Detector dogs are a pivotal frontline defence against pests and diseases, intercepting around 60,000 biosecurity risk items at Australia’s international airports and mail centres in 2018.

In Brisbane, DAWR is currently trialling the use of detector dogs for the screening of imported cars. This is a first for biosecurity in Australia.

As BMSB hitch rides in sea cargo, the introduction of the dogs is another way that to detect and stop this pest in its tracks. It is an example of how our biosecurity agents can expand our existing detector dog capabilities to address current or emerging biosecurity risks.

Further research will now be undertaken to support the training of new and existing detector dogs. This will also allow DAWR to conduct rapid response training for existing dogs to help manage other seasonal or emerging pest and disease risks.

BMSB is a significant threat to Australia’s $12 billion horticulture industries because of the damage it can cause to vegetable crops, fruit and ornamental trees. Between September and April each year there is an increased risk of BMSB arriving in Australia, so enhanced seasonal measures are implemented to address the biosecurity risk.

DAWR already has strong measures in place offshore and at the border to manage the risk of this pest arriving here. The introduction of detector dog screening for sea cargo is another innovative step that DAWR is taking to keep stink bugs out of Australia.


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