As wildfires blaze across Australia, a very special four legged hero is sniffing around the burned out areas of wild lands in search of surviving koalas.
Meet Bear, a highly trained 6-year-old koala detection dog. He began his life in koala detection at the age of one, after being surrendered to Detection Dogs for Conservation by his former owners who could no longer care for him.
Bear, who was not interested in people and didn’t like being touched, was not a good family pet. He did, however, make an excellent candidate for training as a detection dog.
“He was brought in for assessment at about one year old. Within minutes the team knew he was “The One” they had been looking for to train on live koalas. He is high-energy, obsessive, doesn’t like to be touched and is completely uninterested in people, which sadly means he doesn’t make the ideal family pet. But these qualities do make him a perfect candidate for a detection dog which is exactly why he was chosen.”
Unlike most detection dogs that are trained to locate koala scat, Bear is special because he is trained to locate live koalas. This makes him an integral part of the teams of wildlife rescuers who are working tirelessly to locate surviving koalas.
Donned in his vest and protective shoes, the adorable border collie/koolie mix is very busy sniffing for signs of live koalas that have been displaced, injured, or orphaned by the fires. Although hundreds of koalas have already been tragically lost, Bear is hard at work locating survivors amidst the burned out vegetation.
“Bear is highly focused and brilliant at focusing on one thing – his ball which is his reward, which makes him perfectly suited for the job. He also has zero prey drive which is essential for a wildlife detection dog as they need to focus purely on the scent and not the animal, ultimately ignoring the animal,” according to 9News.
Sadly, Bear’s job is huge and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight although rains in the area are helping firefighting efforts.
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