Meet Bear, the OCD dog saving koalas trapped by bushfires

20 November 2019, 09:58 | Updated: 20 November 2019, 11:33

Koalas struggling to survive the deadly bushfires in Australia have found an unlikely saviour.

Bear, a dog with obsessive compulsive disorder, has been helping animal rescuers by sniffing out the marsupials in burnt out forests.

The mutt, a cattle dog cross-breed, is ideally suited to the task, as he is trained to find both koalas and quolls - another small Australian marsupial - in the wild.

Dogs should normally be kept apart from the Australian native species as koalas are very easily stressed by man's best friend.

Dog owners are advised not to let their pets to "play" with them and to always use a leash when in the bush.

Romane Cristescu, Bear's minder and ecologist at The University of the Sunshine Coast, said: "This is the first year that we have been involved in the fires. It is a bit more dangerous than what we usually do."

Bear, who is sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), usually looks for sick or injured wildlife for conservation and research purposes.

The brave pooch has been wearing protective socks on his paws to search through areas scorched by fire.

So far, he has not found any koalas in fire-damaged areas, but the IFAW posted on Facebook that Bear indicated there are definitely live koalas in the Ngunya Jargoon Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) on the northern coast of New South Wales.

He has found dozens of koalas in need and for research purposes so far this year.

Bushfires have destroyed around 2.5 million acres of farmland and bush across Australia's east coast in recent weeks,

Four people have died in the fires, which have destroyed hundreds of homes.

Mr Cristescu said: "With climate change, habitat loss and diseases, koalas are just facing too many threats. Those fires are just one of the many things threatening them so we really need to be better at protecting them."