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Idaho Fish and Game K-9 unit keeping senses sharp during off-season peak

Sometimes when Idaho Fish and Game investigators need a little extra help, they call in K-9 Blue.

BOISE, Idaho — A specialized Idaho Fish and Game unit is training right now to get ready for their next peak season. Officers in the K-9 unit investigate crimes against wildlife and help track missing people to support search and rescue efforts.

Officer Craig Mickelson is K-9 Blue's handler. He said 7-year-old Blue is trained to alert on the scent of eight different species of animals, gun powder, gun oil, and people.

"I would say the goal of our unit is to assist officers on poaching cases," Mickelson said. "Also, it's to assist other agencies with missing persons, missing kids, missing hunters. What officers do is, if they need the dog to help find evidence, they call me. Then, I kind of assess if I'm able to have the dog there. Then, I try and get there as quick as I can because it's definitely time sensitive to get where that scent is still on the items."

Mickelson adds K-9 Blue is trained to alert on items like shotgun shells and a cell phone, to help investigators gather evidence and strengthen their cases.

Mickelson said in a particularly difficult case, Blue was able to help track down a deer that was shot outside of the regular hunting season. 

"On the fifth deployment, we actually found the deer," Mickelson said. "We were able to make the case. The suspect was charged with six charges."

The Idaho Fish and Game K-9 program hopes to grow. The goal is to have a K-9 officer in all seven of Idaho Fish and Game's regions. The Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation accepts donations for the K-9 program in May.

Here's more information about what investigators typically look for and another dog in the K-9 unit, Dexter.

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