Status: Completed

Start date: 1 April 2018

Completion date: 30 June 2022

Project code: P01-L-003

Species: Feral deer, Wild dogs

Download project report (PDF, 2.89 MB)

Summary

Peri-urban areas – where urban areas transition to bush/farmland – are increasing in size in Australia (and globally), presenting challenges to traditional approaches for managing wild dogs and feral deer. This project provided people managing these pests with the best available strategies to do so.
The project team found that:

  • Relying on a single method alone is not enough to sufficiently control wild dogs.
  • Canid pest ejectors (CPEs) are relatively target-specific for wild dogs, with low interaction/ingestion for non-target species.
  • Capsules of 1080 or PAPP (para-amino propiophenone) exposed to the environment showed no significant degradation over one year of sampling.

Key achievements

Outputs

Outcomes

  • Increased efficiency of wild dog and wild deer management practices in peri-urban areas.
  • Reduced impact costs of wild deer and wild dogs in peri-urban areas through improved control methods and strategies.
  • Reduced impact costs of wild deer and wild dogs through increased collaboration, cooperation, and knowledge sharing for management efforts between jurisdictions.
  • Reduced impact costs of related invasive species, such as foxes, through improved awareness, understanding, and by adopting integrated multi-species pest animal management.

Impact

  • Increased animal welfare through increased and improved adoption of best practice management, ensuring high welfare outcomes.
  • Contribution to improved environmental outcomes, such as reduced biodiversity loss and land degradation, due to more effective and species-specific management of wild deer and wild dogs.
  • Contribution to increased community wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety or injury as a result of fewer wild dog attacks and fewer wild deer impacts.

Project team

Dr Matt Gentle

Project Lead

James Speed

QDAF

Dr Tony Pople

QDAF

Michael Brennan

QDAF

Dr Matt Amos

QDAF

Dr Dave Forsyth

NSW DPI

Dr Michelle Dawson

NSW South East LLS

Professor Darryl Low Choy

Griffith University

Dr Sebastien Comte

NSW DPI

Project partners

The project received funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

Project updates

February 2021

Wild dogs:
Local government collaborators have collated camera monitoring data from long-term wild dog baited (1080) and unbaited (nil treatment) sites. This data will be formally examined for (any) differences in wild dog and prey activity resulting from wild dog baiting. Outcomes will help to provide recommendations on the application and implementation (e.g. scale) of baiting activities in peri-urban areas.
Feral deer:
The deer monitoring program developed in the Illawarra basin has already been adopted by the LLS Greater Sydney for their current peri-urban control program. Through using a standardised method in Brisbane, Wollongong and now Sydney, the results will be comparable. The end-product will therefore be robust to be shared across local land managers in Australia.

August 2020

Peri-urban local governments have identified the need for better tools and strategies for control of wild dogs (and foxes) and deer.
Wild dogs:
Visitation and capture rates of trapping are being compared to canid pest ejectors (CPE”s) to determine the most effective and cost-efficient way to remove wild dogs. Results indicate a low CPE interaction and activation rate for wild dogs and foxes, however CPEs remain target specific for delivering toxic doses to wild dogs and foxes. The data collected will help provide recommendations for the effective and safe use of CPE deployment and trapping for managing peri-urban wild dogs. A community led plan is also being developed through a community working group, with two workshops held to inform participants of the research being undertaken and the results to date.
Feral deer:
Feral deer densities are being monitored by faecal pellet count in response to ground shooting operations in two peri-urban areas in Queensland and New South Wales to identify the best management strategies for these invasive species. 2018 and 2019 faecal pellet data suggests deer numbers have increased. Additional monitoring sites have been identified and will be included in future pellet counts. Analysis of camera grid surveys is underway, which will assess the efficacy of control by local authorities

February 2020

Wild dogs:
Data assessed from toxic Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs) deployed in peri-urban areas of south-eastern Queensland has demonstrated the interactions and activations by wild dogs, foxes and non-target species. The activation rate of CPEs is lower in dogs (3%) than for foxes (12%). Although CPEs are target specific, non-target species activations reduce the efficiency of the technique. Visitation and capture rates of trapping are being assessed for comparison to CPEs to determine optimal recommendations for effective and cost-effective removal of wild dogs. Data on sightings or impacts reported to the local authority are also being captured as an outcome of control. The data collected will help provide recommendations for the effective and safe use of CPE deployment and trapping for managing peri-urban wild dogs.
A Community Led Plan for invasive animal management has progressed with a group of peri-urban residents. Two workshops were conducted allowing participants to be briefed about the research project and the findings to date and discuss opportunities for engagement and collaboration between the Working Group and Biosecurity Queensland/CISS.
Wild deer:
Wild deer densities were monitored by faecal pellet count (an index of deer abundance) in response to ground shooting operations in two peri-urban areas in Queensland and New South Wales to identify the best management strategies.
Preliminary analysis of faecal pellet count monitoring data indicate a decrease in faecal pellets on the more urban transects (around Wollongong) since 2018, and a slight increase in faecal pellets on the more rural transects since 2018.
Follow-up monitoring is planned, and a more sophisticated analysis of this time series will be conducted that incorporates management effort and biophysical variables. Based on the known impact of deer (resident complaints, road and rail collisions) and the management effort (ground shooting by contractors), up to 30 additional transects have been identified for the 2020 deer faecal pellet count.
Initial analysis of deer faecal pellet density data from transects in Brisbane suggest that deer numbers have slightly increased from 2018 to 2019. Analysis is underway of camera grid surveys to determine deer abundance. This data will enable local authorities to assess efficacy of control.

August 2019

Wild dogs:
Interviews were conducted with peri-urban residents in the Toowoomba area who have an interest in wild dog control. A working group has been established to progress a community-led plan for invasive animal management.
Sightings and impacts of wild dogs reported to local authorities are being recorded to help refine guidelines for the safe use and effectiveness of long-term canid pest ejectors (CPEs) deployment in peri-urban areas. An average of 22% of toxic CPEs were activated over three-week periods by wild dogs and foxes at five sites in QLD.
GPS-collared wild dog movement was overlaid with modelled locations of control tools (CPEs, traps) placed at different distance intervals. Strategic placement of control tools at high impact locations (trail intersections) efficiently target wild dogs during long-term deployments. Alternatively, CPE placement at the highest permitted density would reduce the time until first encounter and removal of wild dogs.
Wild Deer:
Preliminary analysis of historical transect sites (NSW) indicate a population decrease in urban transects and an increase in rural transects since 2018. These transects will be monitored in 2020, and an improved analysis incorporating the historical data, management effort and biophysical values will be conducted.
Transect sites have also been established around Brisbane in 2018, with follow-up monitoring scheduled for 2020. Faecal pellet density and camera grids will help to determine deer abundance and determine efficacy of control by local authorities.

February 2019

A number of field sites have been established and monitoring of deer and wild dog abundance or other activity on these sites is ongoing.

These sites will be used to assess effectiveness of control of wild dogs and deer over time.

Camera monitoring of wild dog presence/activity was undertaken over a 2-month period at five sites within the Southern Queensland areas prior to deployment of canid pest ejectors (CPEs). Sites were chosen through consultation with project collaborators with criteria including historical and ongoing issues with wild dogs and suitability for longer-term CPE deployment.

Community engagement with peri-urban residents and groups across the field sites is underway to ensure they are kept informed and aware of the management taking place and why.

The team has begun to assess the animal welfare outcomes of ground shooting of rusa deer in peri-urban Wollongong. At the time of writing, we have assessed outcomes for 35 deer. They will continue to assess animal welfare outcomes until we have a sample size of at least 100 deer.

Scientific publications & reports

Amos M, Pople A, Brennan M, Sheil D, Kimber M and Cathcart A (2021) Home ranges of rusa deer (Cervus timorensis) in a subtropical peri-urban environment in South East Queensland Australian Mammalogy 45(1), 116-120. https://doi.org/10.1071/AM21052

Comte S, Bengsen AJ, Cunningham CX et al (2024) Intensive professional vehicle-based shooting provides local control of invasive rusa deer in a peri-urban landscape. Biol Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-024-03345-y

Gentle M, Allen BL, Oakey J, Speed J, Harriott L, Loader J, Robbins A, Villiers D and Hanger J (2019a) Genetic sampling identifies canid predators of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in peri-urban areas Landscape and Urban Planning 190(103591). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.103591

Gentle M, Allen BL, Oakey J, Speed J, Harriott L, Loader J, Robbins A, Villiers D and Hanger J (2019b) State-wide prioritisation of vertebrate pest animals in Queensland Landscape and Urban Planning 190(103591). https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12563

Hampton JO, MacKenzie DI and Forsyth DM (2022) Animal welfare outcomes of professional vehicle-based shooting of peri-urban rusa deer in Australia Wildlife Research 50(9) 603-616. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR21131

Harriott L, Allen BL and Gentle M (2021) The effect of device density on encounters by a mobile urban carnivore: Implications for managing peri-urban wild dogs Applied Animal Behaviour Science 243. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105454

Harriott L, Amos M, Brennan M, Elsworth P, Gentle M, Kennedy M, Pople T, Scanlan J, Speed J and Osunkoya O (2022) State-wide prioritisation of vertebrate pest animals in Queensland, Australia Ecological Management and Restoration 23(2), 209-218. https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12563

Harriott L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhāes R and Cobbold R (2019) Geographical distribution and risk factors for Echinococcus granulosus infection in peri-urban wild dog populations International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 10, 149-155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijppaw.2019.08.005

Harriott L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhāes R and Cobbold R (2019) The association between diet of peri-urban wild dogs and zoonotic pathogen carriage Australian Mammalogy 41(2), 241-249. https://doi.org/10.1071/AM18042

Harriott, L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhāes R and Cobbold R (2019) Zoonotic and economically significant pathogens of peri-urban wild dogs across north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland Australia Wildlife Research 46(3),212-222. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR18110

Kelman M, Harriott L, Carrai M, Kwan E, Ward M and Barrs V (2020) Phylogenetic and geospatial evidence of canine parvovirus transmission between wild dogs and domestic dogs at the urban fringe in Australia Viruses 12(6), 663. https://doi.org/10.3390/v12060663

Li-Williams S, Stuart KC., Comte S, Forsyth DM., Dawson M, Sherwin WB., Rollins LA. (2023) Genetic analysis reveals spatial structure in an expanding introduced rusa deer population. Wildlife Research 50, 757-769. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR22128

Massetti L, Colella V, Zendejas P, Ng-Nguyen D, Harriott L, Marwedel L, Wiethoelter A and Traub R (2020) High-throughput multiplex qPCRs for the surveillance of zoonotic species of canine hookworms PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(6), 0008392. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008392