Detection dogs sniff out koalas to help researchers track population levels on the Northern Tablelands

FURRY FRIEND: Baxter the detection dog sniffs out a koala to help researchers track koala populations on the Northern Tablelands.

FURRY FRIEND: Baxter the detection dog sniffs out a koala to help researchers track koala populations on the Northern Tablelands.

MOST people would think koalas and dogs aren’t a good mix, but specially trained dogs are helping researchers sniff out the iconic marsupial to learn more about them.

Baxter the detection dog, who has been taught to detect koala scats and fur, will show off his skills at a field day in Glen Innes; to encourage people to take part in the Cool Country Koala project by tracking koalas via an app.

Project coordinator Carina Johnson encouraged people to get onto the Atlas of Living Australia app or website.

“People can use their phone with location services on, take a photo of an animal, and it’s already got the geolocation reference and the coordinators,” Ms Johnson said.

“Most local people know where to see koalas, but there are no records for researchers or the government.”

While koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic species, Ms Johnson said there was a serious lack of information about the Northern Tablelands population.

“We urgently need more detailed and accurate data about where koalas are living and in what numbers, so we can help them to survive and thrive,” she said.

“The field day will be a great opportunity to learn about koalas and their habitat and to see the detection dog in action.”

Catch Baxter from 9:30am to 12:30pm at the Glen Innes Agriculture Research Station on Thursday, December 8, where people can learn how to identify signs of koalas and enjoy a free barbecue. To join the hunt, search for Atlas of Living Australia on the internet, or in the app store. 

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