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    In China’s Chongqing, Police Squirrels Can Now Sniff out Drugs

    The Chongqing police believe drug-sniffing squirrels may perform even better than dogs.

    Sniffer dogs in China now have competition.

    Police in the southwestern city of Chongqing have successfully trained a batch of drug-sniffing squirrels, which they claim may perform even better than their canine colleagues.

    According to domestic media reports, a police dog brigade in Chongqing has trained six squirrels that are now ready to take on even the most complicated of tasks, such as those in warehouses full of packages, tight corners, and even “places that are high up,” areas that drug sniffing dogs traditionally have trouble searching.

    “A squirrel’s sense of smell is quite acute. It’s just that we now have more sophisticated methods of training them,” Yin Jin, who trained the new batch of sniffer squirrels, told domestic media.

    The trainer also said that once they detect drugs, the squirrels will scratch the suspicious object in question to alert its handlers.

    On social media, a video of the drug sniffer squirrels went viral Tuesday, gaining hundreds of thousands of views and likes. Some users even joked that the small rodents might be easier to maintain than dogs.

    In China, which enforces a zero-tolerance attitude toward drugs, more than 120 dog species are used to sniff out drugs in metro stations, warehouses, borders, and other places.

    The government even initiated a research project on drug crimes in 2017, which highlighted new techniques to train more types of animals in keeping drugs at bay.

    Since 2018, China has solved over 140,000 drug crime cases nationwide, with more than 9,900 drug manufacturing and trafficking gangs being shut down. About 93 tons of contraband have been seized, primarily through the narcotics police and detection dogs.

    However, new drugs have emerged of late. Miao Jia, an assistant professor of sociology at New York University Shanghai, said in an interview with Sixth Tone that legislative action against drug use often lags behind the iterative development of the drugs themselves.

    Editor: Apurva

    (Header image: VCG)