National News

Doggie duo help study of Brisbane koalas

The future of Brisbane's koala population could rest on the silky shoulders of two English springer spaniels trained to find the native species' droppings.

Strapped into their workwear harnesses, the dogs are entrusted by the Brisbane City Council to track down koala scats to better understand the vulnerable marsupial's behaviour.

It's hoped the hardy hounds will help collect enough material to inform research on genetic diversity, movements and health.

"Understanding more about Brisbane's koala population is important to help protect the species," lord mayor Graham Quirk said.

"In Brisbane, and many other parts of Australia, their numbers have dropped rapidly due to habitat loss, dog attacks, vehicle strikes and disease."

The genetic survey has been carried out at 12 different locations, with four suggesting very high levels of koala activity.

Detection dogs help authorities learn more about the tree-dwellers without resorting to capturing koalas themselves, he said.

© AAP 2017

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