Koala surveys & Habitat Assessment

Reliable Koala presence/absence data is the backbone on which key management decisions can be made to ensure the long-term resilience of the Koala.
There is also often a requirement for specific targeted surveys of Koala and Koala habitat values as per the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). (Detection dogs are a recognised survey method in the EPBC Act referral guidelines for Koalas.)


OWAD Environment conducts Koala surveys that are specifically designed to be compatible with the use of professional detection dogs for the fieldwork component. The use of professional detection dogs dramatically reduces the time needed to uncover Koala scats, and also enables us to find scats where other methods have failed to do so.

Our professional detection dogs Taz and Missy were bred for wildlife detection work, and were selected and trained by Steve Austin. Steve is a world leader in professional scent detection canine training, and has been training successful detection dogs for decades. He has trained many of the best conservation dogs, including the famous dogs that saved Macquarie Island.

OWAD Environment has the capability of sending Koala scats to WildDNA, a renowned wildlife genetics laboratory. This identifies the number of unique individuals sampled, their gender, and presence/absence of key pathogens Chlamydia pecorum and Koala retrovirus KoRV-A. With genetics analysis methods ever improving, more tests will soon be available e.g. determining Koala diet from scats.

Watch this video of Taz in action, filmed during a post fire survey in November 2015:

See the Koala detection dogs page for more information on the detection dogs.


OWAD Environment is always on the lookout for new methods and technologies that can add value to Koala conservation.

Koala scats found by our detection dogs can be sent to WildDNA, a specialist laboratory at Federation University Australia. The results of these analyses (relatedness, gene flow, gender, population structure, gene flow, gender, diseases) provide information that is crucial to taking appropriate and effective conservation measures.


Once the fieldwork is completed, we provide quality reporting with recommendations suited to the project, such as (but not limited to):

- Recommendations relating to the management of existing habitat;
- Information that assists in directing Koala conservation planning strategies;
- Area-specific recommendations based on observations in the field;
- Advice for enhancement and/or rehabilitation of existing habitat and movement corridors;.
- Recommendations for land acquisition;
- Control measures to reduce vehicle collisions, etc.

Our reports include details of methods, high quality maps of results created on ArcGIS, and all data recorded during fieldwork.


The key risks to our dogs' health and wellbeing include:

  • 1080 baits and other toxic substances
  • Snakes
  • Ticks and other parasites
  • Unsafe structures/terrain/infrastructure
  • Overheating / exhaustion

OWAD Environment takes all necessary measures to minimise the likelihood of injury to our dogs, ourselves, any staff accompanying us, and the environment we work in.

A full risk assessment is conducted prior to each project, and a Field Health & Safety Plan is prepared specifically for each project.

OWAD Environment maintain current First Aid and CPR training all year round.

Page last updated in November 2018.