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Bear back on duty for bushfire season

Reuters, September 23, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

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Bear, the rescue and recovery dog, hard at work last summer searching for injured koalas in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires. Picture: Foxtel media_cameraBear, the rescue and recovery dog, hard at work last summer searching for injured koalas in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires. Picture: Foxtel

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Australian scientists are using sniffer dogs to rescue koalas struggling to survive damaging bushfires as they try to avoid a repeat of last year’s high death count of native animals.

Led by Bear, a border collie and Australian cattle dog cross, Detection Dogs for Conservation saved more than 100 koalas in the country’s worst summer of fires in decades from late 2019 to early 2020. About 6000 koalas were killed and thousands of hectares of their natural habitat destroyed.

QLD_CM_NEWS_USC_06MAR20 media_cameraDr Romane Cristescu and Associate Professor Celine Frere with Detection Dogs Charlie, Billie Jean, Bear, Maya and Baxter at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Qld. Picture: Lachie Millard

Almost exactly a year since the first fires of that season started, Bear is back, with a focus on Queensland.

“While it is unlikely that we will see bushfires to the scale of last year, we are still preparing for multiple fires that can impact many hectares of koala habitat during the next fire season,” said Detection Dogs founder Romane Cristescu, an ecologist* at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Qld.

“In places such as Queensland and New South Wales, where populations are already declining, every koala counts,” she added.

media_cameraBear and Dr Romane Cristescu go to work detecting wildlife after the fires.

Fires burned more than 11 million hectares of bushland across Australia’s southeast during what Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the country’s “black summer”. At least 33 people and billions of native animals died.

The Bureau of Meteorology* is expecting a cooler, rainier spring for most of the country, although northern regions, including Queensland, may experience above average temperatures.

Bushfires: Meet Bear the koala rescue dog

GLOSSARY

  • ecologist: scientists who study ecosystems, or communities of living things
  • Bureau of Meteorology: Australian government’s weather science agency for forecasting and reporting weather

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What sort of dog is Bear?
  2. Describe Bear’s job.
  3. Who is the Australian Prime Minister?
  4. What area did last summer’s bushfires burn across southeastern Australia?
  5. What does the Bureau of Meteorology do?

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Rescue Dogs
Bear is a detection dog for conservation, in this instance helping to save koalas that are struggling after bushfires. As you may be aware, there are a lot of other animals that help out people in many different ways. Work with a partner and fill out the table below with any animals you know that help out others.

Use a table like this to organise your answers. media_cameraUse a table like this to organise your answers.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Social Sciences, Personal and social

2. Extension
How could last year’s high death count of native animals during the country’s devastating bushfires affect Australia’s environment in the coming months and years?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Science, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?

What are they?

Can you sort them into their categories?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What important job would you like to train a dog to do?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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