Scout, a year-and-a-half-old black Lab, was introduced today as the second conservation K-9 that will be helping to protect Oregon’s fish and wildlife.
Joining fellow four-legged trooper Buck, who has been on the job for several years now, Scout is another element in the state’s enhanced efforts to combat poaching that came out of the 2019 legislative session and has also included hiring more officers to patrol the woods and waters.
“Having additional paws just adds to that reinforcement,” said Yvonne Shaw, ODFW’s Stop Poaching Campaign coordinator, in a presentation posted to Facebook
Scout will soon depart for specialized training in Indiana, where he’ll focus on article searches, wildlife detection and human tracking, but he’s already impressing his handler.
“Super-fast learner and very calm – we’ve been at a couple events now – and loves people. (I’m) super excited for this position and grateful for everything we have,” said Trooper Shae Ross.
Per the Salem Statesman Journal, he and Scout will be based out of Bend, while Buck and his handler, Senior Trooper Josh Wolcott, work out of OSP’s Springfield office.
“It’s a pretty good asset to the state of Oregon in general and also a great asset to our conservation programs. Of course our main focus is that,” said Wolcott.
He detailed a recent case Buck assisted with that illustrates the onion-like layers of crime some wildlife cases entail. Wolcott said a witness heard a gunshot and saw some deer run off, one of which died on their land. Troopers responding to the scene took statements from the witness and then went to the adjacent property from which shot was fired and spoke to the owners.
“We got permission to deploy Buck on that property and with Buck’s deployment and evidence gathered on the scene and the statements, we were able to apply for a search warrant … It was granted and out of that case we seized 32 firearms from a felon. That’s just one avenue that starts from a wildlife case,” he said.
Under Oregon law, felons can’t possess firearms, and those convicted of illegally having one face a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Wolcott was quick to credit a key partner for helping fund the program.
“A lot of our dollars for our canine program are through donations through the Oregon Wildlife Foundation. They partner with the citizens of Oregon and beyond, and so we want to give a shoutout to them,” he said.