The Oregon State Police have a new four-legged helper for solving wildlife-related crimes. His name is Buck and he’s a three-year-old yellow Lab. He’s the first ever K-9 assigned to help out with the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division.
Buck is based in Springfield but will travel all over the state to track down poachers, uncover wasted wildlife, and find evidence such as weapons and ammunition.
His handler is state trooper Josh Wolcott, who says Buck definitely brings some skills to the table. “Of course, he has a better nose than we do," said Wolcott. "So his nose is the biggest asset that we have with him, and he can go through different types of terrain better than I can, a lot quicker than I ever could.”
Wolcott and Buck went through months of training together in Indiana. The cost was paid for by the Oregon Wildlife Foundation. Executive director Tim Greseth said the group donated about $26,000, which helped pay for the dog and the training program, as well as upgrades to an OSP pick-up truck in order to provide a safe place for Buck to ride.
Greseth said the state police approached the Oregon Wildlife Foundation to see if the organization wanted to help with the project. It seemed like a natural fit with the group's mission, he said.
"Poaching is a huge problem in this state," said Greseth. "And whatever we can do to make that really challenging for people who are taking wildlife illegally, we want to do. We're really excited about this."
In addition to tracking down suspected poachers, Buck can also be deployed to search for lost hikers. If you happen to be lost in the forest and you see Buck approach, Wolcott said you don't need to worry about the K-9 attacking you.
"The most dangerous thing on him is his tail," he said. "He does not bite at the end of a track. He's trained to expect a toy. When we do find a suspected poacher out there, it's up to me for detention."