Meet Tilia and Timber
Tilia is the first on-staff conservation dog in the State of Wisconsin. She sniffs out salamanders, wild parsnip, and more! Timber is her apprentice; together they make the perfect conservation team!
Who is Tilia?
Tilia is a chocolate, English field labrador. She is a member of MNP’s staff and works hard to do her part. She assists us in monitoring animal species and eradicating invasive plants. Tilia’s work is on the cutting edge of conservation science!
Who is Timber?
Timber (Timmy) is a chocolate, English field labrador. He is a member of MNP’s staff and works hard to do his part. Timmy is the offspring of Tilia’s sister. Born at the end of 2021, he is just starting his journey as a conservation dog! He will also serve as a conservation ambassador alongside Tilia. His powerful nose will be a key tool in MNP’s land restoration efforts here!
Wild parsnip, garlic mustard, blue spotted salamander, and eastern tiger salamander
To be determined! He is still learning some basic dog manners. Once he masters those, he will be trained on scents!
In 2012 MNP undertook a project to re-establish salamanders in Harvey’s Woods. We know the salamanders are there… but where? In comes Tilia with her super-powered sniffer! She combs the forest floor to find these secretive animals for us!
Garlic Mustard training
Garlic Mustard is a biannual plant in the mustard family. Locating and eradicating this plant before it establishes at a site is key to make sure it does not take over an area. Human detection is difficult because garlic mustard grows low to the ground before it flowers. Tilia hunts down these tiny plants before they can spread!
Wild parsnip training
Wild parsnip is an aggressive, non-native invasive plant that can cause second degree burns on anyone who touches it. Locating and eradicating this plant before it establishes at a site is key to the safety of staff and visitors. Human detection is difficult because wild parsnip grows low to the ground before it flowers. Tilia hunts down these tiny plants before they can spread!
Why a dog?
For years scientists have tried to replicate the power and efficiency of the canine nose. The results keep coming back the same: The canine nose is second to none. Coupled with an insatiable desire to work and serve, Tilia and Timber help us find things humans often can’t!
Training a scent dog
Since late 2016 Tilia has worked inside and in the field to distinguish “target scents” from everything else around her. Trainers hide target scents in containers, under logs, among flowers… and when she comes upon a target scent she alerts her handler and she gets a treat! Training goes on multiple times a week for an hour at a time. Over time she might learn over 20 target scents!
Soon Timber will follow the same training program Tilia did! The plan is to teach Timber on some different scents then Tilia, that way they can become one unstoppable team!
Help Timber and Tilia’s program continue to grow by donating through MNP’s donation page.
Have an idea about what plant or animal Tilia or Timber could add to their scent library? Are you or your organization interested in hiring them? Contact Cory at firstname.lastname@example.org for more detail!
Conferences, Presentations, Press Coverage
Wolfe, Dan. Wisconsin Dog Trained to Sniff out Invasive Species. KBJR & CBS 3 Duluth, 2019
Concordia University Wisconsin Science Center Field Day: Presentation and demonstration 2019
Wisconsin Wetland Association Science Conference: Presentation and demonstration 2019
Southeastern Wisconsin Conservation Summit: Presentation 2018
Riveredge Nature Center Restoration Field Day: Presentation and demonstration 2018 & 2019
Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council Meeting: Presentation 2018
Wisconsin’s First On-Staff Conservation Dog: What a Face! Mequon Beacon, 2018
Steele, Scott. Mequon Nature Preserve Gets Invasive Species-Sniffing Dog. WTMJ4,’s The NOW, 2017
Bence, Susan. Mequon Nature Preserve Adds Chocolate Lab to Its Conservation Team. WUWM 89.7 Milwaukee’s NPR, 2017