VC0404. To develop cost-effective and humane repellents for the control of vertebrate pests, with particular reference to rabbits, badgers, foxes and grey squirrel.
This study will aim to develop cost effective repellents that are humane and environmentally sensitive for use against rabbits, badgers, foxes and grey squirrels. The study will be composed of 5 objectives outlined as follows, together with ways in which they might be achieved: 1. Identification of circumstances and contexts in which repellents could potentially solve problems caused by the 4 target species. Databases will be searched to identify which are the most common circumstances where repellents have potential to solve pest problems. The precise behaviour that needs to be manipulated by repellents will be identified for each significant problem that arises from the database searches. These will then be assessed in terms of whether repellents have the potential to repeatedly dissuade target species from engaging in problem behaviour; 2. Identification of humane, non-toxic repellent chemicals based on known biological activity. The literature will be searched in 3 areas identified as potential sources of humane, non-toxic repellents, and candidates will be screened based on an understanding of their biochemical properties. Existing repellent substances such as thiram, cinnamamide and synthetic lion dung wil be used to establish baseline comparative data for each of the target species; 3. Development of application methods. The potential of microencapsulation of repellents and systemic application of repellents to plants will be assessed; 4. Quantification of the effectiveness of optimum formulations under field conditions. Various techniques will be used for field testing repellents under natural conditions at established sites, including video sentry units and selective bait feeders; and 5. Identification of ways of encouraging the use of repellents as alternatives to traditional control methods. Results of the project will be disseminated actively to potential users in the form of advisory material and presentations to the pest control industry.