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Olfactory inhibitors as wildlife management tools - VC0419

DEFRA has the policy objectives to ensure safe, effective and humane methods of controlling vertebrate pests are available, particularly in agricultural contexts. Traditional methods of controlling mammalian pests such as poisoning and trapping can be environmentally hazardous, socially unacceptable or uneconomic and there are increasing demands for effective non-lethal approaches to be found. Finding such alternatives is important to the future of effective and socially acceptable wildlife management.
One novel approach would be to use olfactory inhibitors to reduce problematic behaviour of mammalian pests. Many of the UK’s mammal pests, because of their cryptic lifestyle, are heavily dependent on their sense of smell to find food, avoid hazards (including predators) and communicate with potential mates and competitors. If methods could be developed to produce reliable, localised and transitory disruption of an animal’s sense of smell, then these could be implemented to reduce the problem posed by these species. For example, by applying these chemicals we could prevent problem animals from contaminating stored products, scattering domestic refuse, destroying protected species or damaging a ripening crop.
Olfactory inhibitors are currently being exploited by industry as odour masking agents and there is a rich body of data on the effects of these agents on human odour perception. However, despite the obvious potential of these compounds for vertebrate wildlife management, there are no reports that these inhibitors are used in practice. The main objective of this research is to provide ‘proof of concept’ for the role of olfactory inhibitors in controlling the activities of pests.
1. Determine the efficacy of olfactory inhibitors to mask attractive (e.g. food-derived or sex pheromone) or aversive (e.g. aggression pheromone or predator) odours and manipulate the behaviour of house mice (31 March 2003).
2. Determine the efficacy of olfactory inhibitors to prevent foxes locating food caches (31 March 2004).
Project Documents
• Final Report : Olfactory inhibitors as wildlife management tools   (4440k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2004

Cost: £125,067
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Peer Review              
Pest and Weed Control              
Pest Control              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Wildlife Management