Novel scents and lures to catch wild dogs in WA rangelands

Horse hoof, synthetic fermented egg and vanilla essence are among the novel odours tested for luring in wild dogs.

Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Invasive Species Research Scientist Dr Tracey Kreplins said a range of eight novel odours were tested in the Western Australian rangelands to improve lure uptake on canid pest ejectors by wild dogs.

Dr Kreplins said the traditional bait lures had drawn interference from non-target species including feral cats, kangaroos, emus, ravens and goannas.

She worked with biosecurity officer Jim Miller and Dr Malcolm Kennedy, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Food, on the research project investigating the use of canid pest ejectors to control wild dogs at a landscape scale.

The research was funded by the Western Australian Wild Dog Action Plan 2016-2021 and supported by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

Dr Kreplins said baiting was a commonly used tool in Western Australian wild dog management programs.

She said bait uptake research in the Murchison area several years ago prompted further research into lures.

Canid pest ejectors (CPEs) are a mechanical device with an interchangeable lure head and can be left in place for extended periods.

Dr Kreplins said the aim of the study was to find if CPEs were an effective tool for wild dog control at a large scale and solving some of the baiting problems such as increasing wild dog uptake by using different lure heads and reducing non-target interference.

The large scale trial of 100 CPEs and camera traps was conducted over 2018-2020 in the southern rangelands of WA on three properties.

Eight different lure head odours were trialled comprising liver treats, dried meat, synthetic fermented egg, vanilla essence, horse hoof, animal fat, Government Call and fish oil.

The felt was soaked in the lure for about a week before deployment to ensure the scent was maintained on the lure head for more than four weeks of deployment.

“We used thin ziplock ties to secure felt impregnated with the different odours to the plastic lure heads as well as the traditional bait meat head,” Dr Kreplins said.

“With the felt, we had almost no non-target interference with the CPEs. The traditional bait meatheads attracted non-target species, not unlike dried meat baits.

“Six different lures on felt brought wild dogs in and we saw wild dog population changes.”

The most attractive odours were any of those on the felt lure heads: fish oil, horse hoof, Gov Call, animal fat, synthetic fermented egg and vanilla essence.

Dr Kreplins recommended landholders use CPEs as a complementary management tool in hot spots of wild dog activity.

“CPEs do require servicing every month and with the lure heads being interchangeable, it makes it more attractive to wild dogs.”

Dr Kreplins said similar work was to be conducted in the Western Australian agricultural zone where wild dogs and foxes are an existing problem.

More information on using CPEs