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Automated shepherds: Responses of captive dingoes to sound and an inflatable, moving effigy
journal contributionposted on 26.07.2021, 23:58 by Bradley SmithBradley Smith, Natalie Jaques, Robert G Appleby, Scott Morris, Neil R Jordan
Human–carnivore coexistence can be aided through non-lethal approaches that limit interaction between predators and livestock. Yet, investigations into effective deterrents, particularly in the Australian context with dingoes, are rare. We investigated two potential methods: an acoustic deterrent (series of gunshot noises), and an oversized inflatable human effigy that we dubbed ‘Fred-a-Scare’. The devices were deployed to determine whether they would deter captive dingoes (n = 12), from accessing food. The acoustic deterrent did not appear to repel the dingoes during the first trial (11/12 accessing the food; the same as control). However, use of the effigy device was associated with a significant reduction in dingoes approaching, with only 25% (9/36) accessing food across all trials. On the third and final trial (which were repeated daily), 42% (5/12) of dingoes accessed food. Used in conjunction with other devices and methods, and at intervals that reduce the risk of habituation, the inflatable effigy could provide a valuable tool for deterring dingoes, and perhaps other species, from particular areas, even where food (or potential prey) is present. This has potential for use in human-dingo conflict hotspots, such as campgrounds and some small livestock enterprises, but field trials are required to evaluate the technique in these contexts and with free-ranging dingoes.