Conservation Detection Dog Saves Koalas From Australia’s Devastating Bushfire

Sue Byamba
By Sue Byamba
December 2, 2019Australiashare
Conservation Detection Dog Saves Koalas From Australia’s Devastating Bushfire
A Koala dehydrated and injured in bushfires receives treatment at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, on Nov. 2, 2019. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

Taylor, a 4-year-old English springer spaniel, can identify koala excrement or a live koala, helping to rescue stranded animals.

“Every time she smelt koala poo or koala fur, she’d get her favorite reward which, as a puppy, was a tennis ball and treats,” Taylor’s owner Ryan Tate told ABC News.

Having been trained since the age of 8 weeks, Taylor has now helped save eight koalas trapped in Australia’s recent devastating bushfire.

“Taylor’s very speedy and very dedicated and covers a lot more area much faster than we do so it’s been a great asset,” Taylor’s owner told the outlet.

Although bushfires occur annually in Australia, the Rural Fire Service reportedly described this year’s season as the “most challenging bushfire season ever,” according to The Guardian.

So far, six lives have been lost and 673 homes along with 1,400 buildings have been destroyed by the fire, The Guardian reported.

Since July, more than 7,000 fires have occurred, burning 2 million hectares of land across the east coast of Australia, 75 percent of which is prime koala habitat.

According to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, more than 350 koalas have been killed due to the bushfires in New South Wales, a state on the east coast of Australia.

To try and save the remaining koalas, the hospital and National Parks and Wildlife Service crew leaders had teams going out to the bushfire zones every day.

To aid the search, conservationists Tate and his wife offered the services of their detection dog, Taylor, to the koala hospital.

“Her breed has been bred for hundreds of years to use their nose, to find small animals traditionally for hunters, but we sort of reverse that role now and use them for conservation purposes,” Tate told ABC.

“Sometimes she’ll just sit right beneath the live animal if there’s not too much wind. Other times she’ll help us find the koala by identifying the freshest scats and then we call in the brilliant volunteers at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital who are expert koala spotters.”

“We never imagined that we would be using her in these fires, but it’s just working so well,” Port Macquarie Koala Hospital President Sue Ashton added, further complimenting Taylor’s speed and dedication in an effective search.

The hospital reported 31 koalas have been brought to the hospital for treatment and they are still searching for more.

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