A specially-trained squad of scent detector dogs has been unleashed to eradicate an alien turtle species from waterways and wetlands in New South Wales.
The dogs are aiming to track down red-eared slider turtles, which were introduced from North and Central America and pose a serious biosecurity threat to native turtles.
State agriculture minister Adam Marshall said, as well as preying on other turtles, fish and frogs, they compete for food and nesting sites, and can even spread infectious salmonella bacteria.
“These turtles are an extremely serious introduced biosecurity threat, and we need to extinguish them from our waterways,” he said.
“Our highly trained scent detector dogs have the ability to nose out traces of these invaders above and below the water.
“While experts in camouflage, the red-eared slider turtles have nowhere to hide.”
Mr Marshall said the animals are “vicious” and have become an issue on the black market.
He urged members of the public to keep an eye out for them and any other illegal invasive animals.
“These alien species have been smuggled into, illegally kept and illegally released in Australia which have been found across the Sydney basin, from Camden north to Woy Woy and west to Windsor,” he said.
“They are often illegally purchased when they are very small and attractive, but grow rapidly into large adults capable of biting their owners.”