Across the country, researchers have used field breeds including Labrador retrievers and Brittany spaniels to find anything from rare turtles to wolf scat. But dogging snakes to help them survive is another matter. "Most people want to know if I'm looking for them to kill them," he says. Snake researchers usually have to capture snakes, outfit them with radio transmitters, and plot their movements. But hitting the woods with bird dogs, he says, "is a lot more fun than running around with a radio receiver."