Sniffing Out Chemicals In Dingo Pee For The Management Of Wild Dogs

Researchers in Sydney will spend the next year analyzing the smell of dingo urine, in bid to isolate chemicals and odors present in the urine that may help in the management of wild dogs.

AsianScientist (Aug. 7, 2011) – Researchers from Australia’s Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) in Sydney will spend the next year with the unenviable job of analyzing the smell of dingo urine. The research has been funded by the Australian Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

Here, the researchers hope to find a non-toxic tool to manage wild dogs and dingoes, by isolating chemicals and odors present in the animals’ urine responsible for sending chemical messages or “bio-boundaries” that repel other dingoes and wild dogs from areas such as farms, gardens, or suburbs.

Through excretion, dingoes and other animals transmit chemical messages advertising their social hierarchy, sexual availability, and clues as to what they eat.

“We know that dogs mark their territories with urine and that the chemicals in the urine contain messages that other dogs understand. We hope it would be a non-lethal tool for the management of dingo in Australia,” said Dr. Alan Robley, senior research scientist at the DSE.

The DPI, which is responsible for the control of wild dogs on public lands, has commissioned a number of research projects to better understand wild dog activity and improve control measures.

DPI’s John Burley says that, if successful, this innovative technique would only be useful in certain situations and would supplement the range of other existing control measures which include baiting, trapping, or shooting the animals.

The Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is listed as a threatened species in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act; while the wild dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is listed as a pest animal under the Catchment & Land Protection (CaLP) Act.

“The impact of wild dogs on some rural communities is a serious matter, and we will continue to work with communities and explore new options to manage the impact of wild dogs,” Mr. Burley said.

He elaborated that Victoria’s network of 24 wild dog controllers already use working dogs to assist in locating where wild dogs have marked an area with urine, and thus better help target control activities.

Urine samples from eight dingoes had been tested and more than 20 chemicals had been separated, fragmented and identified, said Dr. Robley. So far the dominant smells in the urine have been identified as resembling a mixture of strawberries and cardboard.

The scientists are also talking to researchers in Botswana who are trying to find signal chemicals in the urine of African Wild Dogs.

“We are planning to exchange information with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT) BioBoundary Project as they develop methodologies for the chemical analysis of African Wild Dog urine,” Dr. Robley said.


Source: Department of Sustainability and Environment.
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