The tall inflatable stick-people that wave energetically and erratically in front of car yards and furniture stores across Australia are now being used as a novel, non-lethal approach to managing dingo problems.
The figures, dubbed ‘Fred-a-scares’ by the researchers, have been proven to deter dingoes.
A CQUniversity team has found that the waving figures could deter dingoes from accessing food, providing hope that dingoes and humans can coexist successfully without resorting to lethal management techniques.
CQUniversity senior lecturer in psychology, Dr Bradley Smith, led the team.
He said that though the ‘Fred-a-scare’ technique might seem comical, 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,” explained Dr Smith.
“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 non-lethal approaches.”
“This is all in the search for non-lethal 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.
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