Houston, we have a problem!
It turns out the emu’s long neck is no match for the feral deer aggregator design, with new research results showcasing that adult emus can access the feeder from behind, without needing to step on the mesh floor, which is designed to close the feeder when stepped on.
However, the research team led by Brad Page at the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has a solution, and like any product under development, some simple modifications are being made to the design which include extending the front of the base and adding barbed wire around the back, which is hoped will deter the emus from accessing the device from behind, when tested in future trials.
The results of this Centre for Invasive Species Solutions collaborative project to date have been extremely promising. The aggregator system has been trialed across 6 sites around Australia, testing the systems durability against the Australian elements and non-target interactions.
The system can be set up to automatically shut before sunrise to prevent birds accessing the food. The system has been designed to shut when the long feet of kangaroos or wallabies walk on the grid. However, the stiletto-like hooves of deer fit through the grid, allowing them to freely feed from the system which then results in an aggregation of deer around the system which can be useful for management programs.
Over the course of two years, simple modifications have been made to ensure possums cannot access the feeder through the inclusion of a bar along the bottom of the feeder, which causes the feeder to close if stepped on, including birds.
So this further modification to deter emus is ensuring the product will be as target specific as it can be when it gets to market.
The Feral Deer Aggregator project receives funding support from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, for more information about this project visit – https://invasives.com.au/research/feral-deer-aggregator/
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