DON003: Capture of feral donkeys

Feral donkeys (Equus assinus) can cause significant environmental and agricultural damage and are potential carriers of endemic and exotic diseases. Control methods include capture (by trapping, mustering or roping), exclusion fencing, ground shooting and aerial shooting from helicopters. Aerial shooting programs are often augmented by use of the ‘Judas’ technique to locate animals at low densities.

The Judas technique relies on a captured individual bearing a telemetry device guiding an aerial shooting team to the location of a large group of animals. This technique relies on the gregarious nature of the collared individual to locate otherwise cryptic groups of surviving animals. The capture of Judas animals requires chemical and/or physical restraint to permit the fitting of a telemetry collar, after which they must be released without physical disability or disruption to normal social behaviour.

For large, potentially dangerous species such as the donkey, chemical restraint via remote injection is a necessity for both animal and staff safety. Darts containing immobilising chemicals can be fired by a shooter from the ground if animals can be approached safely, but for highly mobile, flighty species such as the donkey, darts must be fired from a helicopter. Capture methods must be humane, rapid, repeatable, costeffective and safe for staff. A combination of the sedative drugs medetomidine and ketamine is highly effective for immobilising donkeys whilst the sedative effects of these chemicals can be partially reversed by the antagonist drug atipamezole, allowing rapid recovery and release of captured animals.

This standard operating procedure (SOP) is a guide only; it does not replace or override the legislation that applies in the relevant State or Territory jurisdiction. The SOP should only be used subject to the applicable legal requirements (including OH&S) operating in the relevant jurisdiction.

Secondary title Standard Operating Procedure
Author Andrew Woolnough, Susan Campbell, Ken Rose and Jordan Hampton
Year 2014
Publisher Invasive Animals CRC
Pages 6
Control method Judas Technique
Region Australia - national
Documents DON003: Capture of feral donkeys [600kb PDF]