A pair of adorable English springer spaniels are saving injured koalas left without homes after devastating bushfires ravaged Queensland.
Purpose-bred professional field detection dogs, Taz and Missy, help Queensland-based specialist consultancy OWAD Environment look for koalas in burnt-out areas.
The adorable pair have found seven koalas surviving amid burnt out forest at Maryvale on Queensland’s Southern Downs.
Swathes of koalas are without food and severely dehydrated, and OWAD Environment are looking to assess the vast areas quickly and efficiently.
OWAD owners Olivia Woosnam and Alex Dudkowski are certified environmental practitioners and have been using Taz and Missy to locate koalas for five years.
The dogs conduct post-fire koala surveys where they search the area finding faeces – which can indicate the presence of koalas nearby.
OWAD Environment took to Facebook on Tuesday to clarify they do not take koalas from their homes.
‘The goal here is for the staff on the property to know where survivors are, so they provide water points at key locations and keep an eye on them, to help these survivors not die of thirst st while new juicy leaf is so tantalisingly close,’ the post read.
Since surveying the property in Maryvale, the dogs have found eight koalas.
Five of the eight were in a ‘good visible condition’ with normal behaviour, one was ‘a bit thin and her coat was dull likely from dehydration’.
Another koala looked physically fine but ‘was clearly stressed’ as his behaviour was concerning.
The dogs also found a dead male that had been hit by traffic just hours before they searched the area.
But before they worked full time assessing burnt out areas to find koalas, Taz was a Search and Rescue dog working with NSW Fire and Rescue.
Missy was the first dog in Australia trained to detect invasive weeks such as Orange Hawkweed.
A GoFundMe page was launched for OWAD Environment Koala Detection Dogs to raise money when the fires began to get bad in November.
‘Koalas in that region were already struggling due to the drought before the extensive fires now affecting the region,’ the page read.
‘Following a fire, those koalas that were lucky enough to survive the flames are by no means ‘out of the woods’: smoke inhalation, wounds becoming infected, lack of nutrition, can all lead to a slow and painful outcome long after fires have ripped through.’
‘Even koalas in spots that weren’t directly hit by the flames are exposed to the effects of prolonged smoke inhalation.’