The Pennsylvania Game Commission is back in the K-9 business.
Recently, the commission named three wildlife conservation officers to a new special investigations unit. As part of that, got each a Labrador pup that will be trained according to search dog standards to help with investigations, said Randy Shoup, assistant director of the commission’s bureau of wildlife protection. They’ll be able to track poachers from the scene of an illegal wildlife kill, find hidden guns, bows and even shell casings in the field and more, he added.
The dogs, brought in from Maine, represent a “chance to rejuvenate the K-9 program,” he said.
The commission had such a program once before. It formed one on a pilot basis in 2000, securing and training two Labrador retrievers as police dogs.
One of those dogs has since passed away and the other’s retired, though, Shoup said.
When it comes to the new officer-dog teams, one each will be assigned to handle cases in one third of the state. Western Pennsylvania will be served by Mercer County-based officer Larry Hergenroeder and his dog Storm.
The dogs have begun their training. It will likely take 15 to 16 months to complete, Shoup said, meaning they’ll be in the field by spring 2016.
Here’s a look at the Game Commission’s new K-9 team. From left are wildlife conservation officer Derek Daly, with Gunner; officer Dave Allen, with Skye; and officer Larry Hergenroeder, with Storm, all seen during their initial training session held last month.