To evaluate the use of carnivore odours as effective deterrents for macropods
In cooperation with the University of Queensland
project is being conducted by Tarnya Cox, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, School of Animal Studies. It aims to develop
a non-lethal form of management for kangaroos and other vertebrate species that may be considered as pests. It is based on the premise
that the risk of predation outweighs the benefit of obtaining food causing the the animal to move on to an alternate feed source when
the presence of predators is detected. A concurrent project is being undertaken evaluating the effects of the same odours on goats.
The project also attempts to evaluate the role that evolution plays in repellent effectiveness. Both eutherian and metatherian (marsupial)
carnivore odours were used in the initial trials. Tiger and Tasmanian devil odours were used on both goats and kangaroos to determine
whether a eutherian or a metatherian odour would be more successful in the Australian context. Tigers were selected for their evolutionary
relationship with goats, and, whilst Tasmanian devils no longer occur on the mainland, they were selected as the largest remaining
carnivorous marsupial. Tasmanian devil odour was found to be unsuccessful in deterring either goats or kangaroos from feeding.
The trial being run at the Long Grass Nature Refuge is designed to re-evaluate tiger odour and compare it
to another unknown (to the kangaroos) felid odour (lion) and a now common predator of kangaroos (dingo), to see which of these eutherians
odours is a more effective deterrent.
Three carnivore faecal odours – tiger, lion and dingo – are being used to evaluate their effectiveness as feed deterrents
for macropods. Each odour is placed in a container in the centre of a feed trough and a highly palatable feed is placed around the
odour in the trough. Animals are then observed via motion activated video camera and infra-red light to record their behaviour. Any
residual feed is also removed, weighed and replaced each day., Ultimately the repellents will be used as a “chemical fence” to deter
animals from areas requiring short to medium term protection such as revegetation areas, forestry and hobby farms.
This video shows the response of a kangaroo to a carnivore odour. This footage shows the flee response of the individuals
Each animal that approaches the trough soon moves away to another area to feed.