'Sweetener' for dogs, foxes

26 Feb, 2003 10:00 PM
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RESEARCHERS are looking to use sugar as a key ingredient in a new range of environmentally friendly and effective poison baits for wild dogs and foxes.

Australian Wool Innovation has committed $3.2 million over the next three years to the project, which will be conducted by leading researchers through the Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre.

The aim of the project is develop the next generation of pest control technologies that prevent expensive stock losses from dogs and foxes but measure up to community standards for chemical use and animal welfare.

AWI sustainable fibre production manager Paul Swan said the project would target quirks of dogs and foxes and develop a combination of compounds and chemicals that caused a rapid and humane death.

Dr Swan said the innovative approach would use a sweet substance in the bait to attract pest species.

"Essentially we believe we can use the Achilles heel approach to develop a new bait that is highly efficient in attracting and then killing targeted problem pests such as wild dogs and foxes," he said.

Dr Swan said researchers would assess three compounds, each with the capacity to cause a quick death to wild dogs and foxes only.

He said Australian woolgrowers had limited options to control wild dogs and foxes and the National Registration Authority was reviewing the use of 1080 in Australia.

"There is no doubt that there is growing pressure, both from industry regulators and from the community, to restrict the future use of 1080, which is extremely toxic to not only pest species but also to other species of mammals and birds," Dr Swan said.

"If we are to continue to provide graziers with the means to control animal pests there is an urgent need to address concerns and provide a cost effective alternative to the technology they are currently using."

Dr Swan said AWI was confident that the research would provide wool producers with a practical solution to a significant problem and a real return on their levy investment.

"Our approach to this project is to not only gather together leading Australian researchers to prove the science behind the concept but also to take steps to protect the intellectual property of industry and ensure a commercial partner is involved to bring the products to our members," he said.

"Essentially the success of this project will be when the results of the science is in the hands of wool producers."

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