A study has found promising results in using inflatable people to deter dingoes.
A study has found promising results in using inflatable people to deter dingoes.

How comical character could help save dingoes on Fraser Is

INFLATABLE people used to attract the attention of customers outside businesses could be used to manage dingoes, including those on Fraser Island, new research has revealed.

A recent study, led by CQUniversity senior lecturer in psychology who specialises in dingoes and human-wildlife conflict Dr Bradley Smith, showed that an oversized, inflatable human effigy, dubbed "Fred-a-scare", could deter captive dingoes from accessing food.

This could provide hope that dingoes and humans could coexist successfully without resorting to lethal management techniques.

Dr Smith said Fred-a-scare seemed a bit comical at first, but using a human-like figure was inspired by the traditional way livestock were managed using human shepherds.

"It works because dingoes are generally fearful of people and novelty, and this device is quite intimidating and involves unpredictable movement. We plan to make it even scarier by incorporating lights, sounds and smells," Dr Smith said.

"This is all in the search for nonlethal approaches to dingo management.

"It will hopefully give us some added tools in our dingo management tool kit to help enable dingoes and humans to live side-by-side."

Dr Smith said the majority of dingo management centred around lethal control, but this experiment showed that with some effort, innovative, nonlethal solutions to the problems affecting livestock producers, campgrounds and mining operations where dingoes can become a nuisance.

"This device was particularly exciting because it was really effective. Not only did the dingoes find it aversive, they couldn't get far enough away from it. It was also resistant to habituation which is a significant barrier to overcome when developing nonlethal approaches."

Dr Smith said although the results of the study was promising, more research needed to be undertaken.

"We are now looking at testing this device in the field. It's not a silver bullet.

"It certainly shows promise in many contexts, but will only be effective if used as part of broader livestock management practices."

A spokeswoman from the Department of Environment and Science said no comment would be made on the study while the State Government was in caretaker-mode.