Sniffing out biosecurity risks at Norfolk Island

20 December 2018

(Issued by Department of Agriculture)

Norfolk Island’s newest biosecurity team member is already hard at work sniffing out potential biosecurity risks to safeguard the island from pests and diseases.

Head of biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, said Suki the biosecurity Labrador transferred to Norfolk Island in early December from Sydney, and had significant experience under her collar.

“Suki has been working for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources since 2013, and has been trained to detect over 200 biosecurity risk items,” Ms O’Connell said.

“In her five year career Suki has intercepted over 5900 risk items, and in her first week on the job she has already detected a range of fresh fruit and live plant material.

“Suki’s duties on Norfolk Island will include screening passengers, luggage, mail and cargo for anything that may pose a biosecurity risk to the island.

“On Norfolk Island biosecurity risk items are detected each time our detector dog is deployed, which is keeping Suki busy doing what she does best.”

Australia’s biosecurity detector dogs are a vital part of our frontline defence against damaging biosecurity risks that threaten our $60 billion agricultural industries as well as the health of our communities, and environment.

On average, our detector dogs intercept between 3000 and 3500 items in their six to eight year working life.

The most common items sniffed out by detector dogs include seeds, live plants, fresh produce and meat.

Suki’s predecessor, Dawson, was Norfolk Island’s sole detector dog since 2015. Dawson is now 10 years old and will retire to a quiet life on Norfolk Island with his former handler.

“We wish Suki the best of luck in her new role, and wish Dawson a long and comfortable retirement,” Ms O’Connell said.

For more information on biosecurity detection dogs visit: agriculture.gov.au/detector-dogs