Kangaroo relocation using chemical capture techniques

Terrestrial Ecosystems is now providing a service for the chemical capture of fauna using tranquiliser darts. This service enables sedation and anesthesia of fauna so that they can be captured enabling a transmitter to be attached, the animal to relocated or the animal to be euthanased. This service is applicable for:

  • the capture and relocation of kangaroos that are isolated by land clearing or urban development;
  • relocation of kangaroos that have over-populated a golf course;
  • the capture and relocation of Western Ringtail Possums from residential or commercial developments;
  • attaching radio-transmitters to Judas donkeys, goats, camels, horses, etc;
  • euthanasia of feral cats from mine sites and other areas where firearms are not permitted;
  • capture of fauna to attach radio-transmitters;
  • sedating and restraining animals for health checks and physical examinations; and
  • recapturing caged animals.

Wild animals are often difficult to catch safely because they are aggressive, move too quickly, are difficult to restrain, are arboreal and difficult to reach or trap, etc or their capture significantly increases the potential for injuring the animals or the person attempting the capture. Our chemical capture technique uses anaesthetic drugs to temporarily sedate animals so that they can be safely handled. Chemical capture has also been widely used in zoos to undertake health checks, and to treat and medicate sick and injured animals. It is also widely used overseas to capture wild animals that have moved into residential areas (e.g. bears) and in game reserves and national parks to temporarily sedate large animals (e.g. rhinoceros, elephants, lions, buffalo, etc) so they can be relocated or can be physically examined.

In Western Australia, chemical capture has mostly been confined to the sedation of kangaroos in urban areas so that they can be relocated into nearby bushland. In the past 12 months, Terrestrial Ecosystems have relocated more than 250 kangaroos from development sites. Chemical capture is also used for attaching radio-transmitters to Judas male goats, horses, camels and donkeys and then releasing them to form new herds of females and juveniles; this is the most effective method of reducing these feral pests in the Australian landscape. Darting for judas animal programs is often undertaken from a helicopter as it can be difficult to locate these animals in difficult and remote terrain.

There are numerous locations and sites where the use of guns is restricted, yet feral animal control and euthanasia is necessary. For example, mine sites typically do not allow the use of firearms on their tenements, but trapping and euthanasia of feral cats around the infrastructure is an essential aspect of a company’s environmental obligations. Chemical sedation and euthanasia is an effective and humane method of dealing with captured feral cats.

Terrestrial Ecosystems has acquired the equipment for darting and tranquillising animals and senior staff have attended an appropriate training course under veterinarian supervision to develop their skills. Terrestrial Ecosystems have a corporate gun licence and senior staff are authorised to administer appropriate drugs under the Veterinary Surgeons Act. All work is done in accordance with a standard operating procedure (SOP) that was prepared in consultation with an experienced veterinarian and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Our focus is on animal welfare and a high quality of animal care.

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Photo credit: Edward Swinhoe

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