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Koala poo detection dogs help keep the Queensland population safe

Two dogs in harnesses in Queensland bushland.
Taz and Nutmeg have been to more than 12 bushland areas throughout south-east Queensland.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Terri Begley

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Many four-legged friends are just happy to run around and chase a ball, but two dogs in Queensland have a greater mission — to help keep the koala population safe.

Taz and Nutmeg are detection dogs who sniff out koala scat to help conduct a genetic survey in targeted bushland areas.

Trainer Olivia Woosnam said the dogs were always eager to start searching for the small, olive-sized droppings.

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TWITTER: Watch the koala detection dogs at work.

"Koalas produce 10 to 150 scat pellets a day so that's the trail of evidence of where koalas are," she said.

"Every now and then we do find koalas themselves too.

"The scats are then sent to Wild DNA in Victoria who do genetics analysis so we have the unique DNA profile of each koala in the area."

A dozen areas have been searched in south-east Queensland in the past three weeks, Ms Woosnam said.

"We were wrapped with the behaviour."

A dog lies on the ground chewing a tennis ball after finding a koala scat.
Nutmeg is awarded a tennis ball after finding koala droppings.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Terri Begley

The English springer spaniels are rewarded with a tennis ball after they find scat in the field.

Ms Woosnam said working with the dogs was a satisfying experience.

"The dogs are really playing an important part.

Koala scats on tooth picks.
Koala scat found by the dogs is sent for analysis in Melbourne.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Terri Begley

She said the results of the most recent search would be revealed in coming weeks.

"When we wait for the results from Victoria it's often like waiting for a university exam [result]; I think the dogs feel it too.

"The dogs really enable us to learn more about what's really going on with the populations."