K9 Kato and his handler, Ben, departed Montana Monday to head back home to Knoxville Tenn. For a week this K9 tracker team was immersed in the art of manhunting here at RYP - covering steep unforgiving terrain, thick brush, creek crossings and even some urban terrain. Day 1 Kato and Ben were navigating simple 30 yard tracks with basic challenges - on the last day I sent them into the backcountry alone to find a lost hiker over 2 miles away. Kato was encouraged to lead and learn and Ben did a fantastic job being patient and supportive as needed. Lots of learning happened in a very short amount of time - excited to keep getting updates as this K9 tracker team continues to train in Great Smoky Mountains NP with team BUSAR search and rescue unit (https://teambusar.org/). Here is a breakdown of our week:
We started just outside Fort Collins, CO running simple tracks with manageable complexity. Had a super fun day of tracking at Lory State Park! Ben worked Kato and watched how I worked Liesel Weapon.
After spending a few days in Colorado we came back to MT and hit tracking hard. Had a day here called 'Embrace the Suck' where I challenged Ben and Kato's new skills in harsh and unforgiving terrain...
The final exam for these 2 - I sent a track layer over 2 miles into the Montana backcountry. Ben and Kato had no idea where they went and set off alone to find her. Despite the 1000+ elevation gain on a windy MT day they executed their mission wonderfully!
Excited to see this team keep training and become an asset to team BUSAR and Great Smoky Mountains National Park for all who lose their way!