NEW RESEARCH: PhD student Rob Appleby, of Griffith's Environmental Futures Research Institute.
NEW RESEARCH: PhD student Rob Appleby, of Griffith's Environmental Futures Research Institute. Contributed

Fraser Island dingo row re-ignites

DINGO conservationists have celebrated new research which they say challenges Fraser Island dingo management strategies and exonerates "persecuted" Rainbow Beach photographer Jennifer Parkhurst.

Save Fraser Island Dingoes group secretary Karin Kilpatrick says the QPWS has consistently rejected the views of residents and regular island visitors that dingo play behaviour is often misinterpreted as attacks.

And National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program vice president Ian Gunn says Ms Parkhurst was convicted of interfering with island dingoes by taking photographs no more intrusive than those now produced by Griffith University dingo researcher Rob Appleby, whose work on the island is officially endorsed by the QPWS.

Dr Gunn said an article referred to in a Griffith University news release "in part exonerates Jennifer, with statements like 'it's actually very rare that dingoes attack or bite people', and 'our results also clearly show that dingoes rarely seriously injure even the most vulnerable of people'".

He said the article also included observation such as: "Young dingoes in particular might be expected to engage in more play activity" and 'chasing and mock attacks are common features of play behaviour in canids".

"If that information had been available at Jennifer's trial the magistrate could not have found her guilty. The photographs taken by Appleby - significantly similar to Jennifer's - show the dingoes engaging with the camera, something which was found to be proof she was interfering with them," he said. The QPWS says it does not agree with all research on the island and does not discuss court cases.

New Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch says dingoes can be unpredictable at this time of year and urged visitors to be "dingo safe and not engage with the animals".

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