Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

The search for non-lethal human-wombat conflict mitigation strategies has us digging for answers (#7)

Casey C.O O'Brien 1 , David D.T Taggart 1 , Elisa E.S Sparrow 2 , Bertram B.O Ostendorf 1
  1. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  2. Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Human-wildlife conflict is a widespread and growing threat to conservation worldwide. It threatens a huge diversity of species and has far reaching environmental, health and safety, social and economic impacts. For many species, like the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) the scientific data needed to reduce conflicts and develop integrated management plans are lacking. Conflicts between L. latifrons and the agricultural sector have been ongoing for decades. Surveys of landholder opinions of L. latifrons across the species range found they can cause severe damage to infrastructure and crops. Despite the conflicts, there is strong support for their conservation, and the development of alternative non-lethal management options. Translocation was trialed as a non-lethal alternative, however it failed to reduce conflicts, as neighbouring L. latifrons quickly recolonised vacated burrows. In a bid to deter L. latifrons from conflict zones, we assessed whether avoidance responses were elicited by four treatments: dingo urine, dingo faeces, blood and bone (Brunnings PTY LTD) and compact discs (CDs). Field trials were conducted on active burrows, with remote cameras monitoring L. latifrons behaviour before and after the treatments were applied. Mixed effects models revealed a significant decrease in the number of visits to the burrows following the application of CDs, however L. latifrons quickly habituated to them. No other treatments significantly affected L. latifrons behaviour. Despite being ineffective, this research provides vital information to wildlife managers to aid in the future management of L. latifrons and guide further research into the use of deterrents.