What's wrong with Fraser dingoes?
WHAT on earth is going on with the dingoes of Fraser Island?
It is a question many are asking, with once unheard of dingo attacks, one of them fatal, becoming increasingly common and a government that insists that the policy coinciding with these attacks is working.
Under previous Forestry Department management regimes, as illustrated by this photograph (right) of an old Forestry warning sign, dingoes routinely ate the garbage of visitors.
Land owners and Forestry workers fed them and knew them by name, many had pups under people’s houses and there were no attacks.
Now, it is officially argued that feeding dingoes and interacting with them causes them to become dangerous because they lose their “fear” of humans.
And a swag of government-paid experts agree.
So does the RSPCA, which says the government’s Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy has as its primary objective “to protect and manage the Fraser Island dingo and provide an alternative to further mass scale culling of the animal in the interest of preserving the species in the wild”.
Its official position on the strategy states that the organisation “recognises the necessity for appropriate, government-regulated management of wild populations of animals” and says there is “not sufficient evidence to support a charge of cruelty against dingoes,” despite a policy which includes driving them from feeding areas, especially beaches, by “hazing” them (shooting with shanghais) and euthanasing animals which have done little more than behave like dogs.
Minister Kate Jones said she has seen no evidence that dingoes are starving on the island, despite having been sent photos like those published on these pages.
The RSPCA said that even if the dingoes are starving, they are owed no duty of care under law because they are wild animals.
Fraser Island Dingo Preservation Group member Bree Jashin said one pup was euthanased for “scratching someone on the back of their calf”.
The Victorian Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program’s Dr Ian Gunn says the dingo must be preserved.
Research showing the genetic significance of the dingo means “it is now clear that they must be preserved as an animal of international cultural significance,” Dr Gunn says.
The Fraser Coast based Save the Fraser Island Dingo group says the government’s policies have failed.
That assertion is supported by Shadow Sustainability Minister Glen Elmes and fellow Opposition MP Ted Sorensen.
Ms Jashin says the number of attacks on humans and the number of dingoes destroyed demonstrates the failure of the dingo management strategy.
On both its stated objectives – “to reduce risk to humans posed by dingoes to an acceptable low level” and to “ensure the conservation of the wild dingo population of Fraser Island”.
Residents are divided. One, David Monk says “kill the bloody lot.” Others say the fencing dingoes out of habitation areas has seen the rise of rats and reptiles.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said no-one is responsible for care of dingoes because they are wild and “a picture of a skinny dingo proves nothing.
“Dingoes can be skinny because they are young and learning to hunt. There will be sick dingoes and dingoes which are temporarily skinny,” she said.
Minister Kate Jones had not responded by The Gympie Times deadline yesterday, to questions lodged with her office last week.