Our wild detection dogs help on our construction sites to detect protected species. | © DB AG/Faruk Hosseini

Winning by a nose

A dog has about 220 million olfactory cells, giving them a sense of smell far, far better than ours. Deutsche Bahn intends to make good use of this talent by relying on certified sniffer dogs to locate wildlife at our construction sites in the future. 

Reliable four-legged colleagues 

Conservation plays an important role in our construction projects. Before we start building, we create what is known as a "wildlife map", which lets us see if protected animals live on the construction site. We can take appropriate measures if we find any. Normally, our experts inspect the area and keep a lookout for any animals that might be living there, such as sand lizard or bats. However, it is not possible to spot everything: a building might have a lot of nooks and crannies, the construction site might be very overgrown, or the animals might not be active during a certain time of the day or year. This is where our sniffer dogs come in: their sense of smell is perfect for identifying other animals even if the latter are not readily visible. 

Specially trained sleuths

We have launched a pilot project that puts our dogs through a special training course. They learn to work with our species mappers and find sand lizards, smooth snakes and other small creatures by tracking their scent. At the same time, our colleagues have to learn about the target species' biological traits and how to map sites without their four-legged assistants. It takes some twelve months to complete this training, which ends with a test that covers theory and practice alike.  Afterwards, the handlers and dogs are qualified to perform mapping duties at DB. The relevant regional authorities are closely involved in this qualification process. 

Working on construction sites

The handlers and their dogs are already on duty on construction sites during their training. Their role will be to support ongoing building projects and help map the presence of wildlife. 

These animal employees are an asset for us as a company and for conservation measures, as they work quickly, precisely and independently without being affected by weather or by the target animals' activity levels. The dogs' skills are the ideal complement for conventional mapping work, and their contribution can make all the difference when clarity is needed. This will greatly benefit our conservation activities at construction sites. Using these specially trained sniffer dogs will also help us cut costs and save time.

Our puppies get a special training as a wild detection dog.