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A Review of the Impact of Sheep Predators in Australia and New Control Methods Under Development

  • Author(s): Lapidge, Steven
  • Dall, David
  • Hunt, Rob
  • Cowled, Brendan
  • Smith, Michelle
  • Staples, Linton
  • et al.
Abstract

The economic impact of introduced predators, principally wild dogs, foxes, and feral pigs, on agriculture in Australia varies across space and time but is estimated to be in excess of US$120 million annually. Australian farmers and the government spend a further US$30 million annually attempting to manage the predation and disease impacts of introduced predators on stock and wildlife. The principal chemical tool used to control each of these species is sodium fluoroacetate (‘1080’). Issues relating to target-specificity and perceived inhumaneness of the toxin have led to heavily restricted use of the compound in the U.S. and a recent registration review in Australia. Three current proactive research projects are addressing this issue. The first is investigating a chemical, p-aminopropiophenone or PAPP, that appears to be selectively toxic for introduced carnivores, as well as rapid acting and relatively humane in its mode of action. The compound acts by interfering with oxygen transport in the blood of foxes and wild dogs, resulting in an effect similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The second project involves testing and commercializing powerful fox, wild dog, and feral pig attractants that may help increase the efficacy and target-specificity of control programs. The first product from this project is FeralMone®, an aerosolized formulation of synthetic fermented egg that is highly attractive to canids. The third project has involved developing a manufactured target-specific feral pig bait package, PIGOUT®. Initial research has focused on the delivery vehicle that contains sodium fluoracetate centralized in an internal core, whilst current research is developing a recently identified humane alternative feral pig control agent. This paper will report on the economic impact of introduced predators in Australia, the recent Australian sodium fluoroacetate review recommendations, as well as summaries of current research into new predator control tools.

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