Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Preliminary observations of dingo responses to assumed aversive stimuli

Rob Appleby A C , Bradley Smith B C , Jess Mackie A , Lilia Bernede A and Darryl Jones A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

B Appleton Institute, Central Queensland University, School of Human Health and Social Sciences, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia.

C Corresponding authors. Email: rob.appleby@wildspy.com.au; b.p.smith@cqu.edu.au

Pacific Conservation Biology - https://doi.org/10.1071/PC17005
Submitted: 11 February 2017  Accepted: 30 July 2017   Published online: 15 August 2017

Abstract

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.

Additional keywords: aversive conditioning, Fraser Island, human–wildlife interactions, repellents


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