Daunted Dingoes

You’ve heard of scarecrows – how about scare-DINGOES?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

 Australian wolves, known as DINGOES, prey on farmers’ livestock. When they’re caught  having a farm fresh meal, it becomes their LAST meal. Is there a…FRIENDLIER way to fend off predators?

Enter Bradley Smith at Central Queensland University with FRED-A-SCARE: a big yellow inflatable tube dancer!  Smith and colleagues figured Fred-a-Scare’s flailing arms and weird looks might frighten off dingoes. 

To test Fred’s talents, the researchers put out a bowl of tasty dog food. A dozen dingoes each had five minutes to swipe the chow. When they got close, the researchers hit a button and — WHOOSH –out popped Fred! The researchers videotaped and tallied dingoes’ successes and failures. Then, they compared Fred’s scare factor to a burst of loud noise.

Results? Only one dingo was thwarted by the noise. But, eight of them were shooed away by our heroic tube dancer! Although Fred-a-Scare may get predictable over time, he’s one giant step toward dingo-farmer harmony.

Fred-a-Scare says “din-GO AWAY!”

Reference: Smith, B. P., Jaques, N. B., Appleby, R. G., Morris, S., & Jordan, N. R. (2020). Automated shepherds: responses of captive dingoes to sound and an inflatable, moving effigy. Pacific Conservation Biology.