Major science prize wades into dingo battle
LOCAL dingo conservationists yesterday welcomed new recognition of the dingo's role in maintaining farming and environmental interests.
Rainbow Beach wildlife photographer Jennifer Parkhurst said the award winning research was a direct challenge to claims by dingo extermination consultant Ben Allen, who was also a controversial appointment to the recent Ecosure review of Fraser Island dingo strategies.
The new research, including the efforts of Queensland academic Arian Wallach and South Australian grazier Adam O'Neill, was awarded this year's prestigious Eureka Prize for Environmental Science, from the Australian Museum.
It showed that dingoes control kangaroos and suppress foxes and feral cats, as well as protecting pastures from overgrazing by nuisance species.
It confronts intense government and farm lobby campaigning to exterminate dingoes as an invasive pest and directly contradicts claims by Mr Allen that dingoes have no role in regulating feral cats and foxes.
It also backs near-Gympie farmer concerns that dingo extermination has caused environmental disaster, with uncontrolled plagues of scrub turkeys attacking fruit and vegetable crops in the Cooroy district and kangaroos said to be now in plague proportions in the northern Wide Bay area.
Mr Allen and his Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre hit the headlines recently with claims that "wild dogs" (mostly dingoes) could eliminate rangeland sheep grazing over much of Australia within 30 to 40 years.
Speaking as president of the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program, Ms Parkhurst said the research showed dingoes were "far from vermin" and that "ecosystems with dingoes have better vegetation and abundant small native animals."