This project iteratively developed and tested a sentinel spray device as proof-of-concept that automating fox and feral cat control on-farm could be achieved that would reduce predation and disease spread impacts on sheep and goat enterprises.
The project tested whether cats and foxes would groom carrier gels/pastes and toxic formulations applied to their coats. This research demonstrated all cats and some foxes reliably groom and that there was a preference to groom certain areas of their coats. When toxic gel/paste containing para-aminopropiophenone (PPAP) was sprayed onto the upper flank of cats and foxes a majority of cats could be lethally poisoned but only some foxes.
The project has proof-of-concept tested spray tunnels and spray devices in two very different in-field environments (Kangaroo Island and Northern South Australia rangelands). The results of these field studies have demonstrated that sensor arrays can be used to make devices selectively targeted to cats and foxes but not species specific. In addition sensor arrays were not sufficiently robust for in-field use. These results suggest that spray devices that use sensor arrays will not be commercially viable and that automation of image recognition in real-time should be assessed as a platform for achieving what the sensor arrays were designed for - species specificity.