Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Living With Predators (Again)

Ten years ago, and nearly two decades after the infamous Lindy Chamberlain case, a boy of nine was killed by two dingoes on an island in Queensland – grim proof that Australia's native dogs do attack children.
As if any doubt really existed…
The Queensland government took drastic steps to protect visitors, culling dozens of animals on Fraser and fencing off resorts and camping grounds.
And has that helped?

Well, yes and no:
Now critics say the clampdown has gone too far and that Fraser Island's dingoes, accustomed to scavenging in rubbish tips, are dying of starvation.
I can’t help but feel that this is a self-limiting problem.

If the island can’t support the current number of dingoes, then allowing the die-off might be in the species’ best interest.
Some conservationists are even warning that the animals could go the way of the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which was hunted into oblivion in the 1930s after being blamed for livestock deaths.
Which is just ridiculous. This isn’t the only population of dingoes, though it is the only ‘genetically pure’ one:
Banished from populated areas, many of Fraser's 200-plus dingoes are starving, their advocates say. They also believe the introduction of ear tagging has made the dogs less effective hunters, while the practice of "hazing" them – firing clay pellets to move them off beaches – causes injuries and stress. Ian Gunn, a veterinarian at Monash University in Melbourne, says: "When you see the condition of these animals... if I owned them, I would be prosecuted for animal cruelty. If this continues, the dingoes on the island will become extinct."
Yes, but you don’t own them, do you? They are wild animals, and we don’t (usually) interfere with their health and well-being.
Critics of the separation of humans and dogs on Fraser – who include Bob Irwin, father of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin – point to the dingoes' co-existence in the past with the indigenous Butchulla people. But Mr Harper says the island's 350,000 annual visitors cannot be expected to know how to interact with them safely.
Quite. We’re talking about townies, here. The sort of idiots that feed bears in Yosemite, or get too close to female moose with calves in Canada.
Both sides of the debate brandish photographs showing, variously, healthy looking or emaciated dingoes. Karin Kilpatrick, secretary of Save Fraser Island Dingoes, says the removal from the island of wild horses known as "brumbies" – previously a food source for the dogs – "created a hunger situation". That, and a sharp increase in tourism, led to problems never before experienced, Ms Kilpatrick says.
"Tour operators say they are seeing very few, and those that they see are lacklustre in their fur and they look depressed," she says. "Some have diarrhoea or are limping – we believe that's because they are having to travel long distances to find food."
Then cull the weak ones. In the absence of a natural predator, and the unwillingness to allow them to slowly starve, that’s all you can do.

9 comments:

Sue said...

We actually have packs of wild dogs roaming about here in Spain (although I rather suspect they're abandoned pets and their progeny).

Funny how after a while they all revert to that "dingo" sandy colour.

The authorities here do pick them up and destroy them if they find them though.

English Viking said...

Or cull them all.

Why not?

dingo said...

Well you have done a lot of copy and pasting I see, and yet you have still missed the point Julia. You say this "Yes, but you don’t own them, do you? They are wild animals, and we don’t (usually) interfere with their health and well-being."
Well I must inform you Julia that the Rangers usually interfere with them daily, by trapping them in soft jaw traps which bruise their paws, also cutting off blood supply, they get ear tagged which deform and infect their ears, they get shot at with clay balls from a shanghai and even run over by the tourists.
May I suggest you go onto Facebook and search for Save Fraser Island Dingoes, and you will be quietly surprised. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102445695086

Let me know what you think.
Hooroo

Pavlov's Cat said...

though it is the only ‘genetically pure’ one:

On behalf of other not so 'pure' [to use your termm] Dingoes

J'Accuse... Racist

Damn been reading too much CiF again
Sorry

Delta said...

To set the record straight, the Fraser Island Dingoes are unique as they are not completely wild animals and had always lived harmoniously with locals and the Indigenous Community, but when National Parks took control and stopped all supplementary feeding and their natural food source became scarce, the animals began to starve..therefore National Parks have a duty of care to protect the flora and fauna of the Island, especially in a World Heritage listed National Park..
Culling has caused the disintergration of the pack and is the crux of the problem causing abnormal behaviour, such as aggression.
The dingo population is self regulating and feeding in the past or in the future would not cause an over-population.
The dingo is listed as a threatened species by the IUCN and as the FI Dingo is possibly the last pure strain left in Australia, to lose it could inevitably lead to extinction and as the only apex predator in Australia plays a very important role in maintaining the eco-system..I suggest you do some research ..

jd said...

I'm curious about one thing - what do the dingoes naturally eat? If fencing off the resorts and camping grounds has had such an effect it suggests they were foraging off human rubbish and the population was too large for whatever their natural diet is.

To that extent, this ought to be a revertion to a more natural position, which you'd think would please the conservationists (unless we've killed off the dingoes natural prey as well).

Slightly off topic, but did you see the documentary about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone, and more to the point, panthers to Florida? I think you know you've got a problem with your wild hog population expanding, when the locals are happy to have panthers reintroduced into residential areas because they eat the pigs.

Anonymous said...

"always lived harmoniously with"
Does any animal live totally harmoniously with humans. Well maybe goldfish.

JuliaM said...

"Funny how after a while they all revert to that "dingo" sandy colour."

I remember reading a study done on that very subject! It was fascinating.

"...and yet you have still missed the point Julia. "

No, I haven't missed the point at all. These rangers are indeed interfering far beyond what you would normally find for their role, yet fail to realise that their interference is causing the very problems they are trying to blame on other factors.

"Culling has caused the disintergration of the pack and is the crux of the problem causing abnormal behaviour, such as aggression."

Culling is inevitable, sadly, unless the rangers leave that job to nature. Our Disneyfied world won't, it seem, allow that.

"Slightly off topic, but did you see the documentary about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone, and more to the point, panthers to Florida? "

Yes, it was fascinating. I wonder if it bolstered that chap who wants to reintroduce wolves to the Highlands..?

jd said...

"I wonder if it bolstered that chap who wants to reintroduce wolves to the Highlands..?"

One can hope, though last I heard it looked like that was facing some pretty significant legal obstacles, nevermind local opposition.

For the meantime our largest natural mammal predator is the scottish wildcat and they're down to less than 400.