A new prototype baiting technique to control wild dogs and foxes is being tested and refined to offer a more durable, longer-lasting alternative to current options for predator control.
The prototype is a multi-dose ejector (MDE) system, designed, built and patented by Frank Gigliotti of General Dogs Body – R&D technical services, and has just received funding from MLA to ensure the mechanism is independently assessed to work accurately and efficiently.
In an MLA release issued this morning, Mr Gigliotti explained that the device aims to address the shortcomings of current baiting options through a multi-dose delivery system that is target-specific and has a longer ‘life’ in the field.
“We are looking at a system that can deliver 20 or more lethal doses per bait rather than the current one bait/one animal option,” he said.
The new system builds on previous Australian and international research and technology and incorporates innovative new developments, including two mechanisms to prevent availability to non-target species.
“The multi-dose ejector is secured to the ground and requires an upward pull force of 3kg to trigger the device, preventing risk of exposure to the toxin by smaller marsupials,” Mr Gigliotti said.
“The system can also be deployed with an exclusion collar which prevents non-target species such as working dogs, possums, spotted-tailed quolls and Tasmanian devils from accessing the bait.
A polymer (plastic) bait is also being developed that can be impregnated with a lure that remains active for longer than natural food baits and is able to withstand numerous animals pulling on it.
Initial 'fine-tuning' will also include the toxin aerosol formulation, toxin dose size and lure formulation.
MLA’s Program Manager – Biosecurity, Animal Health and Welfare, Jim Rothwell, said stock losses to predation were on the increase, with recent reports estimating that predators cost $67 million per year in Queensland and $21m in Victoria in lost production.
“This project is a low risk investment with good potential for significant gains to be made in wild dog control,” Dr Rothwell said.
“It will see further development of the multi-dose ejector and toxin delivery system to the point where field trials can commence, ultimately supporting the system’s application for registration with the APVMA.”
MLA is investing around $245,000 for the first year of this project in addition to the $1.4m invested in invasive animal control research conducted through the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre.
An additional $2.5m is pledged to research invasive animals from 2012 either via the IACRC re-bid process or individual projects, the MLA release said.