Detection dogs enhancing Council’s koala conservation

Brisbane City Council is undertaking the largest genetic survey of koalas ever to be completed, with the help of koala detection dogs.

The genetic survey uses two highly trained koala detection dogs, in targeted Council bushland areas, coupled with genetic analysis of koala scats, to enhance our understanding of Brisbane’s koala population.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said information gathered from the survey would directly improve management of the species by informing investment into further research, wildlife movement solutions, bushland acquisition, and community education and awareness programs.

“The koala is one of Australia’s most loved and iconic animals. In Brisbane, and many other parts of Australia, their numbers have dropped rapidly due to habitat loss, dog attacks, vehicle strikes and disease,” Cr Quirk said.

“Understanding more about Brisbane’s koala population is important to help protect the species and will inform Council projects such as the new Lone Pine Koala Research Centre, Bushland Acquisition Program, Wildlife Movement Solutions and natural area management.

“To date the survey has been carried out at 12 locations over the past six weeks, covering areas including the Deagon Wetlands, Brisbane Koala Bushlands, Whites Hill Bushland and Toohey Forest.

“Four sites had very high levels of koala activity and all except two sites had evidence of koala scats or koalas present.”

The English Springer Spaniels are specially trained to detect koala scats, which are collected and sent for analysis to determine genetic diversity, movement behaviour and health.

Cr Quirk said there were many benefits of using koala detection dogs to complete this work.

“This is a non-invasive method for collecting information about koala populations, compared to other survey methods which rely on capturing koalas to collect data,” he said.

“Council conducts a range of activities to protect Brisbane’s koala populations, such as planting koala food trees, assisting residents to restore koala habitat with grants and conservation programs and installing wildlife movement solutions to help koalas cross roads safely.

“Over four years Council is also investing $120 million to preserve precious koala habitat, which will involve purchasing 750 hectares of land as part of Council’s bushland acquisition program.”

For more information on what Council is doing to protect Brisbane’s koala populations, visit www.brisbane.qld.gov.au or call Council on (07) 3403 8888.