Springer spaniel Max sniffs out endangered species - but has to wear goggles due to hayfever

Looking like he is about to go scuba diving, Max is one of a small handful of dogs being trained to protect endangered wildlife - with their noses.

Max training in river near Wrexham (Credit: F Stop Press Ltd)

The eight-year-old English springer spaniel is one of four dogs being trained and deployed by Paws for Conservation to locate animals across the UK.

He was joined in a Welsh river by two other dogs as the team honed their skills for locating species - even in and around water.

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Already a slightly over-enthusiastic agility competitor, Max began his conservation work last year. He started off on birds and bats and is now learning to find great crested newts (GCN) and water voles.

Rachael Flavell, 33, with (left to right) Willow, Max and Stig. (Credit: F Stop Press Ltd)

Rachael Flavell, 33, owner of Paws for Conservation, said: “He’s very prone to injury and was forever getting things in his eyes. He also suffers with hay fever which is why he wears the goggles. They can mist-up a bit when he’s working in the water. But, they work really well and don’t bother him at all – it’s as if he’s not wearing them.

“Today is a training and familiarisation exercise for neutral scent searching in water.

“Before planning permission can be given for building work or for wind farms, presence and absence surveys need to be carried out to check for endangered species.” she explained.

Based near Wrexham, Wales, and operating at sites across Britain, Ms Flavell has worked for ecologists and consultants.

She added: “It’s usually ecologists who determine the presence of endangered species such as GCN. This can often be very time consuming. But using our dogs in combination with our Level 1 class licence from Natural England we can now quickly establish whether or not this protected species of newt is there or not.”