Hawkeye keeps his skills sharp with a lot of training hours. One of the most recent training opportunities for Hawkeye was at the Fresno International Airport where other Parcel inspection Canine Teams from other counties met for a training session at the claim luggage area. The dogs walked on the belts sniffing pre-made packages with target and non target items. Target items are fruit, vegetables or any plant material and non target items included a wide array of non plant material. Packages were also placed inside luggage to expose the dogs to a real life experience. Hawkeye and his handler Tino did an awesome job during the training. Way to go!
The Santa Clara County division of Agriculture performed a demonstration at the Walk and Wag Fundraiser, organized by the Humane Society of San Jose. The Humane Society collected more than $289,000 on the Walk and Wag Fundraiser! Hawkeye contribution was a demonstration of his detection skills looking for agricultural products. It was a great experience for him; he got exposed to a very stimulating environment with other dogs, noise, people, and new smells. Hawkeye and his team shared the message of not bringing fruits or vegetables into California to avoid the risk of spreading harmful pests into the county.
Mealybugs are insects in the family Pseudococcidae, unarmored scale insects found in moist, warm climates. They are considered pests as they feed on plant juices of greenhouse plants, house plants and subtropical trees and also act as a vector for several plant diseases. This one was found on an unmarked shipment of oranges from Southern California.
Ochna Serrulata is commonly known as the Mickey Mouse Flower because of its resemblance to the Disney character when in full bloom. This plant is native to the forest areas of South Africa, and is classified as an invasive weed species in certain parts of the world. This plant was intercepted today by Hawkeye and the team, and was grown in and shipped from Texas. This plant was seized and destroyed because it was in violation of four different quarantine regulations, as well as not having the proper labeling on the outside of the package.
Often times Hawkeye will alert on live animals like this chameleon. Our department works with the California Department of Fish and Game to determine if the animal is allowed into CA. The California Department of Fish and Game regulates the movement of live animals in a similar way that the Department of Agriculture regulates the movement of agricultural material. Animals shipped into California must be clearly labeled, and legal to posses in the state. In this case the package was not labeled, so we documented our find and forwarded it to the Department of Fish and Game for further action.
Cut flowers from Hawaii are considered to be high risk because past records show that they have been hosts to serious pests that have hitch hiked into other states. These flowers were not labeled, but Hawkeye had no problem alerting our biologists to its contents. Our biologists must make sure to conduct a thorough 100% inspection of Hawaiian plant material to ensure there are no pests present.
Recently Hawkeye alerted on this package from Texas, which contained plant material that was grown in a backyard garden. Inspection of the plant material showed no insect pests, but this package didn’t have markings that labeled it as an agricultural product. The plant material was identified by the biologist as Betel. The Betel is the leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family, which includes pepper and Kava. The betel plant originated from South and South East Asia, and is valued both as a mild stimulant and for its medicinal properties.
One of the main ways that insect pests can hitch- hike into our state is by receiving back yard grown fruits and vegetables from your friends and family who live in other states. This box of cucumber, corn, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, and garlic was shipped into our county from Illinois. There were two problems with this shipment. The first was that the package was not labeled that it contained agricultural products. The second was that Illinois is under quarantine for the European Corn Borer and the corn cannot be shipped out of the quarantine zone unless it was treated and inspected. This shipment was seized and destroyed by our quarantine officers in order to prevent the introduction of the European Corn Borer into California.
One of our main goals is to protect California’s natural resources by preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. This picture shows a box of longans that was shipped into our county from Florida. The package didn’t have any markings to show that it contained an agricultural product, but Hawkeye’s powerful nose alerted our handler to the package. During a thorough inspection of the package, the biologist discovered many tiny scale-like insects covering the fruit. The lab analysis confirmed that they were Q rated longan scales, an insect suspected of causing economic and environmental damage.
Hawkeye and his handler go through weekly training sessions to keep their skills sharp. Here they are making a run through a series of boxes that contain non-target items and one of the 5 target fruit that Hawkeye is trained on: citrus, apple, stonefruit, mango, and guava.