Manipulating resource use by goats with predator fecal odors.
Feral goats (Capra hircus) are estimated to cause >AUD$25 million of losses to pastoralism per year. Feral goats contribute to soil erosion, shrub defoliation, pasture degradation, and compete with stock for browse. Feral goats also impact threatened plants such as curly barked wattle (Acacia curranii), and land degradation by goats is considered a Key Threatening Process under the Australian Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. However, many pastoralists supplement their incomes by harvesting feral goats for their meat, fiber, skins, and for live export; this is an industry worth >AUD$73 million/year. In consideration of the commercial industry associated with feral goats, we evaluated a non-lethal form of management using predator odors at The University of Queensland's Darbalara Research Farm (Australia) in 2008. We evaluated fecal samples from lion (Panthera leo), tiger (P. tigris), and dingo (Canis lupus dingo) as area deterrents. Dingo fecal odor was not an effective deterrent for goats. Tiger fecal odor affected goat movement patterns, which resulted in a shift away from the test area (P=0.01). The use of both lion and tiger fecal odors resulted in test animals moving their resting sites away from the test areas (lion, P=0.03; tiger, P=0.03). These results show that both lion and tiger fecal odors can be used to manipulate resource use by goats by affecting grazing patterns and shifting goat resting sites.