Australian researchers say they have discovered a new repellent that can help with everything from rehabilitating old mine sites to reducing the amount of roadkill. It's dingo urine.
Researchers at Curtin University have been startled by the effectiveness of urine from Australia's wild dogs in scaring off kangaroos which chew through areas of new-growth vegetation.
The university's Michael Parsons said the discovery could have important applications in helping to re-establish plant life on old mine sites by repelling kangaroos, unique Australian marsupials which number in the tens of millions.
Researchers looked at the effectiveness of chemicals found in the urine of dingoes and non-native predators like coyotes.
"When we presented tame kangaroos with coyote urine, they became interested in the new smell, but when presented with the dingo urine they were startled and fled," Parsons said.
He told Reuters Tuesday that the effect of urine on wild kangaroos was even more dramatic.
Parsons's team is looking at ways of delivering the repellent effectively at mine sites and how much would be needed, as well as whether it could be used to reduce the number of collisions between kangaroos and vehicles on outback roads.
He said the university was also trying to isolate and synthesize the active chemicals in dingo urine so that it could be made in quantities large enough to be commercially viable.
For now, the university is receiving supplies of the real thing from Australia's Dingo Conservation Society, but he said how it is gathered is a tightly held secret.
"At one stage we fashioned a little urine catcher to walk dingoes and collect it from, but that tended to be risky," Parsons said.