Jackson Civil Engineering has called on some canine assistance to help it survey for rare newts on a site in Sussex.
The team are currently working on the Northern Arc scheme, building a roundabout and link road near Burgess Hill on behalf of public body Homes England.Having carried out traditional methods of surveying for wildlife before starting work, Jackson has also employed some less conventional techniques to ensure impact on nature is minimised.
Enter Arnie and Poppy, detection dogs from specialist company Wagtail who have been trained to sniff out the whereabouts of any great created newts at the location. Great crested newts are a protected species and if any are found at a construction site, they must be carefully moved to a suitable habitat under the supervision of an ecologist with a license from Natural England.
They are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending most of the rest of the year in woodland, hedgerows, marshes and tussocky grassland. The newts hibernate underground among tree roots and in old walls.
Former rescue dogs Arnie and Poppy have been trained to tell the scent of great crested newts apart from that of small mammals, frogs and toads, and even other species of newt. The springer spaniels are also trained to be non-invasive - if they do detect the presence of a great crested newt they step back and sit or lie down, and wait for an ecologist to investigate the area the dog is indicating.
While the doggy duo didn’t find any newts on this occasion, supporting the results of other survey work that has already been undertaken at this site, they were still rewarded for their efforts. Just not with their favourite toy - they only get that when they find a newt!