Forensic Search Dogs Protect Cemetery

A Caltrans Archeologist ,using specially trained dogs, recently marked out native graves without digging. While the Olancha/Cartago highway project is still years away, Terald Goodwin of Lone Pine told Caltrans staff that there was a historic Native American burial ground near the project.

According to a Caltrans press release, Mr. Goodwin remembered his grandmother spreading crushed glass beads in the area where he thought there might be twelve graves.

In order to find out where the graves were located before the highway project comes through, Caltrans Archeologist Tom Mills, decided to use specially trained forensic search dogs.

These historical grave smelling dogs are relatively new, but have already been used to find archeological sites like a Donner Party campsite near Truckee.

Rather than dig or use ground penetrating radar, Susan Lent with Caltrans reports that the dog teams met Tom Mills requirement to be cost effective and, most importantly, to leave the area undisturbed.

Four different dog teams searched the area near Lone Pine. Lent reports that the dogs searched at separate times and each alerted to the same sites. Without disturbing the cemetery, the dogs marked out thirteen different grave sites over an area that was larger than Caltrans officials initially thought.

Lent reports that the cemetery is not in the path of the Olancha/Cartago highway project, and now that the extent of the cemetery is known crews can avoid the site.

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