Researchers at Curtin University in western Australia have been startled by the effectiveness of urine from the wild dogs in scaring off kangaroos which chew through areas of new-growth vegetation.

The university's Michael Parsons said the discovery could help re-establish plant life on old mine sites by repelling kangaroos, unique Australian marsupials which number in the tens of millions.

Researchers looked at the effectiveness of chemicals found in the urine of dingoes and non-native predators such as coyotes.

"When we presented tame kangaroos with coyote urine, they became interested in the new smell, but when presented with the dingo urine they were startled and fled," Parsons said.

He told Reuters on Tuesday that the effect of urine on wild kangaroos was even more dramatic.

Gathering process

Parsons's team is looking at ways of delivering the repellent effectively at mine sites and how much would be needed, as well as whether it could be used to reduce the number of collisions between kangaroos and vehicles on outback roads.

He said the university was also trying to isolate and synthesise the active chemicals in dingo urine so that it could be made in quantities large enough to be commercially viable.

For now, the university is receiving supplies of the real thing from Australia's Dingo Conservation Society, but he said how it was gathered was a tightly held secret.

"At one stage we fashioned a little urine catcher to walk dingoes and collect it from, but that tended to be risky," Parsons said.