Tasmania will soon have a new team of detector dogs with the first litter of the biosecurity canines having recently completed their training at Launceston Airport.
The 14 dog team of field trial and working line detector dogs will include Labradors, German short-haired pointers, springer spaniels and cocker spaniels, and are part of the state government's Detector Dog Unit Improvement Plan.
Designed to bolster Tasmania's capabilities at the border, the new plan puts the pups through their paces in an effort to continue the prevention of biosecurity threats entering Tasmania.
Primary Industries and Water Minister Jo Palmer said visitors to the airport would have noticed the dogs in "training mode" over the past few months.
"That training is part of our broader plan to ensure we have the best border biosecurity systems in place because we know how important that is here in Tasmania," Minister Palmer said.
Tasmanian detector dogs are trained to find items that could bring pests or diseases into the state, including fruit and vegetables, plant material, honeycomb and honey, eggs, meat and a range of seafood products.
As well as the 14 new pups, the Detector Dog plan includes upgrades of critical kennel infrastructure, initiatives to support the dogs' enrichment and exercise requirements and nationally recognised training for handlers.
Acting general manager for Biosecurity Tasmania Ryan Wilkinson said this was an exciting time for the state, with the new training, the ten of the 14 new dogs to be in place by the end of this year.
"With increasing domestic and international threats, the dogs at are border are crucial," Mr Wilkinson said.
"They operate at a whole host of environments on our border, from the Spirit of Tas to mail rooms and they are critical to our protection."
The new fleet of detector dogs went through a three to four month training program to understand their "target odours" and responses.
Program coordinator at detector dog unit Jill Taylor said the different breeds of dogs allowed border security to use the animals' varied sizes to the unit's advantage.
"We can now diversify and put larger dogs with passenger clearances where they get the high bags more easily, which increases our chance of finding targets and detections," Ms Taylor said.
"With smaller dogs, we can put them in smaller places that the larger dogs can't get to, allowing us to target different risks."
The new team is replacing a retiring group of 12 detector beagles which have served the state "magnificently" for a number of years but it was now time for them to "find their forever home", Ms Palmer said.
A professional external retraining program will help the current fleet transition between the airport to a well-deserved rest and relaxation.
As part of that program, the beagles have been undertaking swimming lessons and attending schools, with some even travelling around Australia with their new owners.
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