15 Dec 2016


A two-year-old border collie, rescued from a Sydney animal shelter, has a nose for poo and that could be great news for Australia’s threatened species.

After she showed potential, Billie Jean was sent to the University of the Sunshine Coast to learn how to be a conservation detection dog.

These specially trained dogs sniff out scat - or poo – and are the latest weapons to help WWF-Australia save threatened species.

Landclearing and feral pests have devastated bilbies, koalas, numbats – and many other species.

There is an urgent need to know where threatened species are living and how many there are because this information can help conservationists push for better protection.

Conservation detection dogs are one of the fastest ways to search a landscape for animals.

A dog’s sense of smell is believed to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times better than humans and once trained, a detector dog can track different species - just by finding their poo.

Watch her in action here!

The poo confirms threatened species are in the area and can also also reveal vital information about an animal’s health without the need to trap and handle them.

With bushfire season about to start, conservation detection dogs could be sent in after a blaze has ravaged an area to swiftly locate fresh scat of threatened species and help wildlife managers plan any necessary response.

Head of species conservation at WWF-Australia, Darren Grover, said: “Dogs like Billie Jean are the ultimate rapid response tool. They detect scents we couldn’t possibly find and they can cover a much larger area than humans.”

“After a bushfire, animals may need our help and a DNA analysis of the scat can tell us how many animals remain. This allows us to respond to an emergency much quicker. Even with camera traps and monitoring it could take up to two months for us to get the results a dog can achieve sometimes in minutes.”

This Christmas WWF-Australia is asking for donations to help continue to fund and deploy detection dogs like Billie Jean.

Media Contact:

Mark Symons, WWF-Australia Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571, msymons@wwf.org.au