Judas animals have been used to control vertebrate pests for many years. A Judas animal is a wild animal that's caught and fitted with a radio-tracking collar and then re-released into its normal habitat where, if it's a gregarious species, it will seek out members of the same species. Hunters use the radio-collar to track the Judas animal and then kill the other animals it has found. The process is repeated where the Judas animal finds other animals until typically it stops finding congeners. This Judas animal is then euthanised, the collar is removed and fitted to a new wild caught animal, and the process is repeated. This one-way process is inefficient as it relies on a Judas animal finding congeners - inevitably it will stop doing so.

We've improved greatly the efficiency of female Judas animals by implanting hormones to extend estrus so that they become extremely attractive to both males and females of the same species. The ‘Mata Hari Judas animal' looks for congeners because her reproductive ‘instinct’ is enhanced, and congeners seek her out because of her sexual attraction. 

This technique was successfully trialled by Dr Karl Campbell, when he was a postgraduate working with feral goats at the UQ Gatton campus. He has since used the technique to eradicate goats on one of the Galapagos Islands, and this research has been published. We offer opportunities to research the application of this technique to eradicate other vertebrate pests, such as cats, foxes, wild dogs and feral pigs.

Location: Gatton campus, with possible fieldwork in several other Queensland locations

Supervisors: Associate Professor Peter Murray

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor for more details

Project start subject to: UQ animal ethics approval

Project members

Associate Professor Peter Murray

Associate Professor
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences