Source: Ministry for Primary Industries
Media contact: MPI media team
Another 51 quarantine officers and 4 new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer.
The new officers graduated today at ceremonies in Auckland attended by family members.
Officers Ben Cuff (Wellington) and Amy Sacco (Auckland) shared the award for top graduate.
Biosecurity New Zealand has recruited 101 new officers this year in 2 groups. The first 50 graduated from their training in August.
“We’re expecting another huge influx of international travellers this summer. The new officers will give us more biosecurity protection at airports and ports. They will also bolster our defences for mail and cargo,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Steve Gilbert.
The latest graduates will be based in Auckland (41), Wellington (3), Christchurch (4), and Queenstown (3).
A second ceremony saw the graduation of 4 new detector dog teams (dog and handler). Two of the handlers are new to Biosecurity New Zealand’s dog programme. The others are experienced handlers who have been assigned new dogs.
“Matching handlers to suitable dogs is a crucial part of our training. It has been very pleasing to see them develop close bonds,” says Mr Gilbert.
The graduating canines included 2 beagle/harrier crosses from Biosecurity New Zealand’s breeding programme.
“These dogs are larger than the beagles we normally use. This helps with screening backpacks and oversize baggage carried by travellers.
“Detector dogs are an important biosecurity tool. They are good at detecting risk materials like seeds that can be hard to pick up by x-ray.”
Biosecurity New Zealand has trained 15 new detector dog teams this year.