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Preliminary observations of dingo responses to assumed aversive stimuli
journal contributionposted on 10.05.2018, 00:00 by R Appleby, Bradley SmithBradley Smith, J Mackie, L Bernede, D Jones
Occasionally, interactions between dingoes (Canis dingo) and people on Fraser Island result in serious injury, and, in one case, death. The risk to human safety from such interactions may be mitigated if people could carry a suitably defensive repellent, similar in principle to bear (Ursus spp.) repellent spray advocated in North America. In the first step towards searching for suitable stimuli that might be used as repellents with dingoes, we observed the responses of nine dingoes to three stimuli during interactions with a researcher on Fraser Island. Two treatment stimuli were assumed to be potentially aversive (an air horn blast and a water jet from a motorised water pistol), and one was considered unlikely to be aversive and therefore suitable as a control (a whistle being blown). Responses to the stimuli varied. All nine dingoes were initially presented with the whistle; however, only one adult male responded as if the whistle was aversive. Seven of the nine dingoes were later presented with a whistle and treatment stimuli together. None of the seven dingoes were repelled during any air horn treatment trials; however, six of seven dingoes (all juveniles) were repelled by the water pistol stimulus. Although a water pistol was effective at repelling young dingoes on many occasions, responses between individuals were inconsistent. Results from this pilot study suggest that a water pistol stimulus may offer some protection as a repellent to close approaches by young dingoes, particularly if enhanced with a mild irritant. © 2017 CSIRO.