Marty 'nose' the importance of island biosecurity

Publish Date : 21 Feb 2023
Marty on the Move
Biosecurity dog Marty on the move at work

Marty has just one mission in life - one job he loves above all else.

Finding rats.

He has a nose for the protection of our pest-free islands.

While working the waterfront in the early hours of Sunday morning, 4am to be precise, this juvenile English Springer’s nose began to twitch, and he knew something was amiss.

Two trucks destined for Rakino Island on a chartered sailing were prevented from leaving the wharf after Marty excitedly flushed out a rat from the underside of one of the trucks. Because the biosecurity team on the ground couldn’t be sure where the rat had run to, the decision was made to stop the trucks sailing.

“It was a great find and a fortunate find,” says Kerryn Johnson, Auckland Council’s dog handler.

“If Marty’s nose hadn’t detected that rat, it would have ended up on one of the Hauraki Gulf’s pest-free islands. The residents have spent years ridding their island of pests and Rakino has been pest free since 2002; they pride themselves on maintaining that status with the help of our biosecurity dog team.”

While Marty couldn’t pinpoint the rat a second time and neither could the officers with torches, the risk was too great to allow the trucks to sail and with the co-operation of SeaLink, the drivers were asked to remove their trucks from the terminal.

“We take our Pest Free Warrant seriously,” says Sam Somers SeaLink’s skipper.

"We’re very supportive of the work the council’s dog team does and we want to do our part in helping reduce the risk of pests making it to the gulf’s pest-free islands.”

The remaining five vehicles were allowed to load and make their way to Rakino Island.

Marty - a hero for pest-free islands!

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