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Bear The Koala Detection Dog Has Been Tasked With Finding Koalas That Have Survived The Bushfires

Stewart Perrie

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Bear The Koala Detection Dog Has Been Tasked With Finding Koalas That Have Survived The Bushfires

Featured Image Credit: IFAW

As many resources as possible are being directed to areas in New South Wales and Queensland that have been devastated by bushfires.

Some of those resources are helping people get back on their feet after they lost their homes while others help teams as they go into burned areas to assess the damage.

Another resource is being utilised to see if there are any surviving koalas.

Credit: IFAW
Credit: IFAW

Bear, the koala detection dog, has been deployed to the Cooroibah area near Noosa, Queensland.

The dog has been trained to sniff out koalas even at the trickiest of times and it's hoped these heightened senses will be key in finding any koala that has managed to live through the inferno.

Bear belongs to the International Fund for Animal Welfare Australia (IFAW) and is being looked after by handlers at Detection Dogs for Conservation.

Sadly, he hasn't found any koalas yet, but they're not giving up hope.

IFWA has been using dogs like Bear ever since partnering with the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Credit: IFAW
Credit: IFAW

"A dog's sense of smell is up to 10,000 times stronger than that of humans. We train formerly-sheltered, highly-active dogs-who may otherwise never be adopted-to sniff out koala scat and fur," IFAW's website says.

"By locating the scat, and in some cases the koalas themselves, we can collect data about the genetics and health of the local koala population. We can also use this data to protect individual animals and conserve ecosystems."

They use these dogs during conservation assessments as well.

Say an application had been made to transform an area to into apartment blocks, koala detection dogs would be employed to ensure that the project wouldn't impede on any natural habitat.

Fingers crossed Bear and any other koala detection dogs stumble across a few more koalas in the coming days and weeks.

One of the koalas being treated. Credit: Gofundme/Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
One of the koalas being treated. Credit: Gofundme/Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

It's feared the bushfires that have ravaged the two states have killed hundreds of koalas and other animals.

"We think most of the animals were incinerated - it's like a cremation," Koala Conservation Australia president Sue Ashton told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They have been burnt to ashes in the trees."

The koalas in this region are described as some of the most genetically diverse in the whole country.

The hospital's clinical director Cheyne Flanagan told the Daily Telegraph: "The fires are at such a high intensity, we're not finding any bodies. They're completely incinerated to ash."

Estimates vary at the moment as teams haven't been able to inspect all the affected areas, but experts reckon there are as many as 350 dead koalas in the area.

Topics: Community, Animals, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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