A dog is using a unique skill to help koalas living in areas of Australia that have been devastated by bushfires.
Bear, a rescue dog turned "koala detection dog," is trained to detect live koalas through the scent of their fur, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
"His obsessive nature and tireless energy made him an unsuitable pet, but also made him the perfect detection dog," IFAW said of the pup.
Bear set out on Friday to find koalas in Northern Rivers, a region in Australia’s state of New South Wales. Bushfires in the area have killed six people and destroyed around 530 homes, according to the Guardian.
"Up until the fires, this area presented a refuge and a lifeline for iconic species impacted by nearby development. Now it is a blackened, smoldering crematorium with 85% of it burned," IFAW said.
A local koala researcher and rescuer teamed up with an indigenous ranger and were able to save two koalas from the aftermath of the fire. Those koalas are undergoing rehabilitation so they can be released in a safe location.
After spotting more koalas who quickly escaped, Bear's expert nose was brought in to help find them. Wind conditions made it difficult for the dog to do his job, but he was still able to sniff out possible koalas at a number of spots.
"Thanks to Bear’s work, we know that there are live koalas in the area and we will continue to search to rescue any koalas who need our help," IFAW said.