June 18, 2008 Tasmania’s marsupials have been offered a life-line by researchers at Curtin University of Technology’s Department of Environmental Biology utilising cutting edge science involving fresh dingo urine.
Historically, Tasmania’s logging industry has used 1080 poison, shooting and more recently cyanide to control kangaroos and wallabies in areas marked for reforestation, however this method is unselective and kills all wildlife.
Partially synthesised and pelletised by project partner, The Chemistry Centre WA, the dingo urine product repels wild marsupials when spread in areas of new-growth forestation and offers a realistic alternative to lethal baits and shooting.
A compilation of recent Tasmanian field trials using pellets made from fresh dingo urine demonstrate a consistent flight response by kangaroos, wallabies and possums due to the assumed presence and fear of predators.
Dr Michael Parsons, Project Leader outlined the results.
“In the most recent trial, an average of 28 wallabies and 47 possums were present each night before the dingo urine treatment, this dropped to six and nine animals respectively per night (78% reduction in wallabies and 80% reduction in possums)” Dr Parsons explained.
“Also, other trials demonstrated that Forester Kangaroos were repelled for 31 days from encroaching rose gardens around a domestic residence.”
The filmed response showed Kangaroos approaching cautiously from 4-6 metres away then fleeing the area.
“Overall we spent 212 days in the field testing the urine. The majority of macropods did not breach the urine barrier at any time throughout these tests, the exception being the curious Brushtail possum.”
The study also looked at the effect of fresh dingo urine in comparison to aged dingo urine and identified that fresh urine had a ‘time stamp’ with a heightened deterrent effect as animals were more wary of a predator they thought was nearby, rather than an animal that now may be long-gone.
“We used chemosensory cues, and time-stamp, present in the fresh dingo urine to manipulate the behaviour of the macropods, by taking advantage of the innate and learned fear of natural predators,” Dr Parsons said.
“There was no effect when aged dingo urine was used.”
The Curtin based research team were recently awarded a $1.6 million ARC grant to further their research on dingo urine and its ecological application for the mining and forestry industries.
The project is strongly supported by the RSPCA.
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