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Queensland Authorities fall back into old dingo mismanagement habits

See also: Help Save Koalas From Extinction! (9/1/2014) on the Australian Wildlife Protection web site.

With the destruction of yet another juvenile dingo on Fraser Island, the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) and the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (NDPRP) today issued a joint criticism of the Queensland Government for its continuing mismanagement of the Fraser Island dingo population.

The juvenile male dingo was destroyed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff this week after it allegedly stalked tourists near Eli Creek on the Island and nipped an 11 year old child.

Spokespersons for the Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc. (AWPC) and the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program Inc. (NDPRP), Ms Jennifer Parkhurst and Dr Ernest Healy, respectively, stressed that:

‘Such allegations of aggression by dingoes on Fraser Island are frequently subjective, often being misinterpretations of innocent dingo behaviour, and have characterised the mismanagement of dingoes on the Island for a long time. The Queensland authorities have a long track record of manufacturing perceptions of dingo ‘aggression’ on Fraser Island, at times even encouraging a fear mentality against dingoes amongst tourists’.

Ms Parkhurst, a wildlife photographer who studied dingoes on the Island at close hand for many years, stated that, this most recent destruction of a juvenile dingo on Fraser Island, after contact with tourists, highlights an even deeper mismanagement issue.

‘The underlying problem with the Queensland government’s approach to managing the Island, which is World Heritage listed, is the sheer volume of tourists that it allows onto Fraser Island, currently running at well over 400,000 per year. The dingoes are literally over run by tourists, including beach areas which are traditionally places where dingoes forage for food. Efforts by the authorities to virtually confine dingoes to the central areas of the Island, where they can be ‘wild’, without contact with people, are ill-conceived and unachievable. While this prioritisation of commercial values over biodiversity values continues, more dingoes will die and their ability to survive on Fraser Island in the medium to longer-term will be in doubt.’

Ms Parkhurst said hopes that the Newman government would mean a fresh approach to dingo management on Fraser Island have now proven unfounded.

‘Despite a review of the Fraser Island dingo management policy on coming to government in 2012, the current Queensland government has fallen into the same old mismanagement practices. Part of the problem is that there has not been a sufficient turnover of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff to ensure departmental cultural renewal in relation to dingo management on the Island.’

Dr Healy emphasised that the ongoing culling of Fraser Island dingoes is being permitted by the Queensland authorities without sufficient base-line dingo population data to know whether the authorised killing of dingoes is undermining the viability of the Island’s population:

‘Convincing answers are yet to be provided by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service as to the total dingo population of Fraser Island, the population age structure, including the number of breeding pairs, and the genetic health of the dingo population. This is essential knowledge for any responsible dingo management policy. It has been lacking.

At present the authorities simply keep citing a figure of between 100 and 200 animals, a figure that has been blindly thrown around by the authorities for years without adequate research to substantiate it. The fact that the Queensland authorities have only recently put forward a detailed research agenda to address these dingo population questions bears out the inadequacy and potential risk of dingo management practices up to this point.’

The AWPC and the NDPRP are concerned that the majority of animals killed on Fraser Island have been juveniles. Without accurate population data on the Island’s breeding population, the impact of culling juveniles upon the overall dingo population’s survival prospects is not known. Destruction of juveniles impacts negatively upon future generations because they perform an important role as parental helpers in raising subsequent litters and they disperse to form new packs.

January 8, 2015

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Comments

The volume of tourists and the misunderstanding of Dingoes, and their natural attraction to humans, is a deadly mix! Of course, the tourists are the dominant species, and naturally the dingoes will be the victims!

The tourist resort should be sectioned off, and fenced, and only guided tours should venture into the main part of Fraser Island.

Even in Africa, if a tourist is killed in a wildlife sanctuary, there is not an attack on the animals! They are attacked and killed by poachers, and numbers dwindle through loss of habitat, but if people go into a natural area, and get "attacked" by wildlife, it should be the tourist and safety policies that are updated, not the death of the natural animal resident. The child was not even hurt!

Pure dingoes are an endangered species, and unless their status is considered of value, and their existence protected, their future is bleak! Every species deserves a chance to survive, and not maligned in preference to tourist dollars.

Fraser Island is being treated as a theme park, with the dingoes part of the "props", or "actors", to create a commercial, entertaining holiday fantasy on a World Heritage territory!
When one of the "props" becomes dysfunctional, or doesn't "act" according to the script of happy dingoes in the distance, and it actually wants to interact with a child, then it's disposed of as "faulty"!
It's a bit like the movie, The Truman Show!
It takes just a small observation to break the illusion of a created reality, a false natural world, artificially created for the enjoyment of watchers. Any "errors" are quickly cleaned away, and fixed, so that nothing interferes with the illusion of perfection and its entertainment ideals.
Nature isn't quite so clean-cut, and dingoes don't know the script! There's always been dependence of Dingoes with humans, with the indigenous peoples that lived on Fraser Island before hand, and the fishermen that went there. They are not completely "wild" like other native animals of antiquity.
The poor Dingo that lunged at and nipped the girl was probably excited and wanted to "play" - not attack. That's not on the agenda at the Fraser Island "Theme park"!

I wondered if the "lunging" (as described in the press) by a dingo (now destroyed) at tourists was just the normal play behaviour that we see in domestic dogs. It would seem that this is the case. Have a look at the following video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGbh3VjP7J8
The treatment of these animals on Fraser Island seems reprehensibly unfair and cruel with no effort to understand.

I fear that it is cynically committed with the intention of ridding the island of any wildlife except for tourists and then building from the alienated result, some heavy footprint tourist resort. I think it is an attempt to clear the way for 'development'. It must be resisted at all costs. There is a new book about to be published, by Jennifer Parkhurst, called First Nation Peoples of Fraser Island and their Dingos, which should make a good case to a lot of people if we all promote it.

Extremely well said, what a perfect analogy.