Dingo Management in Global Spotlight
The iconic Australian dingo has been crowned the world’s most unfairly unloved species following a campaign by Humane Society International’s Wildlife Land Trust (WLT). The WLT nominated the dingo for Wildscreen Arkive’s annual Valentine’s Day competition to raise awareness of the ecological importance of the misunderstood species as well as its plight in the face of widespread government killing programs.
“Australia is decades behind the rest of the world when it comes to non-lethal stock protection methods and apex-predator management. With the body of evidence on the importance of dingoes in the ecosystem swelling it’s high time we saw dingo policies catch up with the science,” said Humane Society International Senior Program Manager Evan Quartermain.
The most recent regressive policy shift detrimental to dingoes occurred in Victoria, where the state government has announced a bounty on ‘wild dog’ scalps to try and reduce stock predation for sheep farmers. Despite good intentions, the program is set to be a failure for the environment and farmers alike:
- Dingo ‘purity’ cannot be determined by sight, meaning dingoes, which are listed as a threatened species in Victoria, will undoubtedly be killed;
- Less dingoes in the landscape means more feral cats and foxes, both primary threats to dozens of endangered wildlife species;
- When dingo packs are fractured through killing, natural behaviours are impacted and feeding becomes more opportunistic, exacerbating stock conflict issues;
- Bounty programs are ripe for fraud, with no accurate way of determining where or when a scalp was obtained – even large pet and shelter dogs are at risk;
- Expert organisations have shown that even for the program’s intended purpose of reducing ‘wild dog’ numbers, shooting is an ineffective control measure;
- Dingo impacts on stock are overstated and government reactions excessive, in 2013-14 just 1.2 in every 10,000 sheep in Victoria was reportedly lost to predation.
“The Victorian bounty is astoundingly poor policy no matter how you look at it. The state government is using taxpayer funds to incentivise indiscriminate killing of a threatened species, with the cascading impacts affecting many more. It’s heads in the sand stuff.” said Mr Quartermain.
Campaigning for dingo conservation has been a long-standing focus of Humane Society International, with ongoing efforts including scientific nominations to see the loss of dingoes from Australian landscapes recognised as Key Threatening Processes under national and multiple state environment laws.