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Manu the Dog has started training to find Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles on the Big Island

By Arielle Argel

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    HILO, Hawaii (KITV) — The Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) is training dogs to detect the invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) after CRB grubs were reported for the first time on the Big Island.

As of now, BIISC has started training a dog named Manu. He is one of the first dogs being trained to sniff out CRB Grubs.

“Before we knew CRB was here — in anticipation, after the Kauai detection, that we were probably going to eventually get CRB — we reached out to find someone on island who had a dog that could be trained and luckily we did find someone,” said Franny Kinslow Brewer, BIISC program manager.

BIISC partnered up with Michelle Reynolds of Hawaii Detection Dogs. Brewer said dogs can detect scents at extremely low concentrations, which makes it easy for them to smell and identify CRB grubs that are hard to see with the human eye.

“Without actively sort of going through every square inch of that material, what is a more efficient method? And so the dogs can sort of just go right up to a bag or a pile of mulch and say ‘Oh you better dig here.’ And I think it’s really just using the dogs is really about improving the efficiency that our humans have in this work,” said Brewer.

Brewer said in the future, they hope to use dogs to not only sniff out CRB, but other invasive species.

Darcy Oishi, the acting manager of the Plant Pest Control Branch with the Department of Agriculture, said they are also looking at other ways to help control the CRB population.

“We are looking at our Kauai model where we were able to use a drone to treat some of the trees in an infested area, that was highly effective. We’re waiting on EPA clearance to use the same chemical,” said Oishi.

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