Victorian Labor destroys legacy with backflip on dingo bounty
Humane Society International (HSI) is incensed by the announcement that the Victorian Labor Government has destroyed its dingo conservation legacy with “a bigger, better bounty” than the Coalition program they scrapped just a year ago. A far cry from the previous Labor Government’s landmark listing of the dingo as a threatened species in 2008, the move signals a new era where Labor is beholden to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party with the state’s wildlife considered nothing more than collateral.
An abundance of reasons this regressive and misguided bounty program is bound to fail at the expense of Victoria’s environmental health were outlined by HSI and echoed by experts last week. They include: leaving the Government exposed to fraud; an inability to determine genetic purity in the field; and ‘wild dog’-dingo hybrids playing the same ecological role as genetically pure dingoes, including suppressing feral cat and fox populations to the benefit of countless native species.
"The Victorian Government is using taxpayer money to incentivise the killing of a threatened species with the ecological fallout to impact dozens more, it’s inexcusable and the public should be outraged. An opportunity to reform management to the mutual benefit of farmers and the environment has been ignored for purely political purposes, and we’re left with short-sighted investment in outdated methods that have repeatedly been tried and failed," said HSI Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford’s justification that a bounty of $120 per ‘wild dog’ scalp will be introduced “In recognition of the role hunting can play in supporting the management of wild dogs” is in stark conflict with expert organisations such as the Invasive Species Council, who have determined that shooting is a highly ineffective control measure for canid species. Similarly, Minister Pulford’s claim that “One less dog roaming on people's farms is a good outcome” demonstrates an alarming lack of ecological understanding. The latest research suggests that such control programs in fact increase stock predation due to pack disturbance altering behaviours.
“Alternative stock protection methods such as guardian animals have proven to be effective and are ripe for Government investment. Yet against all evidence the Labor Government has turned their back on the iconic and threatened dingo, bowing to shooters groups and trashing their conservation legacy by mimicking Coalition policy. They should instead be focused on strengthening the dingo’s threatened listing, with the voice of Minister for the Environment Lily D’Ambrosio conspicuous in its absence,” Mr Quartermain concluded.
HSI is currently seeking legal advice on the legality of the Victorian ‘wild dog’ bounty announced today.