Two Murdoch University research projects will be aiming to improve baiting practice to help reduce harmful wild dog numbers.
Wild dogs, including free-living domestic dogs, dingoes or hybrids, cause millions of dollars of damage to sheep, goat and cattle production in Australia every year, and Murdoch researchers have been investigating ways to improve their population control for the last five years.
Led by Professor Trish Fleming, the research has already provided insights into practical approaches to baiting to improve their attractiveness to wild dogs, and found evidence that older dogs in populations that have been baited for a long time develop learned aversion to the baits.
One of the new projects will identify the factors that make a bait more attractive to wild dogs, including the type of meat used and its presentation, and investigate further bait aversion, with the aim of improving bait uptake.
The second project will investigate alternative storage methods for baits to ensure they do not lose toxicity, and identify differences in their manufacture between different areas in WA.
Professor Fleming said the studies would result in the development of best practice guidelines for bait making and storage, and inform baiting practice benefitting pastoralists across Australia.
“Baiting is the principal method of wild dog control used in Australia so it is important we seek to refine its practice,” Professor Fleming said.
The emotional and financial stresses associated with farm stock being killed by wild dogs will be reduced by this research.
The research team will be working at locations in the Meekathara and Pilbara Recognised Biosecurity Groups (RGB) to carry out bait trials with both long-term baited and bait-naïve wild dog populations. They will also be testing whether wild dogs can detect the scent of 1080 – the poison used in baits.
The projects have been funded through the Western Australian Government's Wild Dog Action Plan R&D fund and through the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Australian Government’s plan for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.