Cont-roo-ception! Dart-administered immunocontraceptive trialled in kangaroos

By Invasive Animals CRC

The ACT Government and CSIRO are currently trialling a dart delivery method to remotely administer the GonaCon Immunocontraceptive Vaccine to eastern grey kangaroos. This project builds on research initially funded by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, in which GonaCon was hand-injected to tammar wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos.

A collared kangaroo that has just been darted with GonaCon. After a few minutes the dart falls out and can be recovered. Photo: Lyn Hinds.

Those studies demonstrated very high efficacy in females of both species whereby no young were produced for at least three breeding seasons and greater than 90 percent of females produced no young for at least six breeding seasons. While it was concluded that GonaCon could provide a viable method for controlling the abundance of small, captive kangaroo populations, because each animal had to be physically captured to inject the vaccine, a more practical method was needed.

The current trial, led and funded by the ACT Government in collaboration with CSIRO, is testing the use of a remote dart delivery method, which should provide a more efficient way of administering the vaccine. A suitable dart has been selected, the humaneness of the method has been assessed and a temporary marking system has been trialled to prevent kangaroos being vaccinated more than once in a treatment period. The trial is currently in progress and will compare the efficacy of dart-delivered versus hand injected GonaCon, and investigate the overall effect of GonaCon treatment on the rate of increase of populations.

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