Development of the Mata Hari Judas canid

Background

Control of feral canids, such as wild dogs and foxes, is important to protect native wildlife in Australia.  Current control methods such as trapping, baiting, and free shooting typically fail to eliminate the entire feral population, allowing feral animals to persist and recover in the environment.  The Mata Hari Judas (MHJ) canid is a novel approach to feral canid management, and has been successfully used to eradicate other feral animals such as goats (K. Campbell, 2007; K. J. Campbell, Baxter, Murray, Coblentz, & Donlan, 2007).  A MHJ animal is a female that has been hormonally treated to display persistent oestrus; the MHJ female can be released to find conspecifics and subsequently tracked to find remnant animals in a population.

Aims

  • Develop a MHJ canid using the domestic dog as a model for feral dogs and foxes
  • Apply the treatment protocol from domestic bitches to develop a MHJ feral bitch and MHJ vixen
  • Perform field studies to determine if the MHJ bitch/vixen is successful in attracting/ locating feral dogs and foxes

Methodology

  • Domestic bitches are treated with several different hormonal implants which are likely to induce persistent oestrus, and evaluated daily for physical and behavioural signs of oestrus. 
  • Once a suitable treatment protocol is identified, wild caught vixens and/or feral bitches will undergo similar treatment.  A GPS radio-collar placed on the MHJ female will allow these animals to be tracked in the wild.
  • Interactions between the MHJ females and conspecifics will be monitored using camera traps and direct observation. 

Expected outcomes

We expect to find a treatment that is both safe and effective for inducing persistent oestrus, and that the MHJ canid will be useful in identifying and eradicating remnant populations of feral animals. 

References

Campbell, K. (2007). Manipulation of the reproductive system of feral goats (Capra hircus) to increase the efficacy of Judas goats: field methods utilising tubal sterilisation, abortion, hormone implants and epididymectomy.

Campbell, K. J., Baxter, G. S., Murray, P. J., Coblentz, B. E., & Donlan, C. J. (2007). Development of a prolonged estrus effect for use in Judas goats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 102(1), 12-23.

Acknowledgements

Hidden Vale Wildlife Project Research Support Funding

Lockyer Valley Regional Council 

 

Project members

Picture of Dr Fraser

Dr Natalie Fraser

PhD candidate
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Theriogenology
School of Veterinary Science

Associate Professor Peter Murray

Associate Professor
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Dr Julia Hoy

Research Manager
Hidden Vale Wildlife Centre