Wednesday, 7 August 2019

And still the horror of 1080 continues

Berenice Walters began her fight against 1080 in 1976 and never gave up the battle.

1080 (Sodium mono fluoroacetate) had been banned in the USA in 1972 when it was realised secondary and tertiary poisoning had a substantial effect on non-target mammals and birds.

In July 1976 Premier Neville Wran stated he was “horrified at the indiscriminate use of 1080 poison and contamination of our wilderness areas.” 

He immediately, called a Dingo Seminar to be held to question the use of 1080 and the practice of aerial baiting for predator control.

In 1977, despite Mr Wran’s intervention concerning aerial baiting in national parks a year earlier the horror of the practice continued elsewhere putting other wild life at risk in the maniacal pursuit to exterminate the dingo.

For 200 years many Australians believed, without question, our heritage was not worth protecting if it interfered with making money. They also believed, without question, the only good Dingo was a dead Dingo.

Berenice was not prepared to stand by in mute horror like most of her countrymen as the mass slaughter of wildlife by aerial baiting continued.

The general public blindly accepted baiting was done in winter because it was the time of year when dingoes were most savage and did the most damage.

However, it is the time of year when the female and her devoted mate are scrounging for food to support their puppies. The poisoned adults die an excruciating, long and panic-stricken death, whether they be the stock killing culprits or not, desperately struggling to return to their pups. Alone, the pups slowly starve to death, or fall prey to other hungry predators, while pitifully searching for their missing parents; starvation forcing them from the safety of their den.

Through the media, Berenice constantly questioned how much longer white man, and his sheep and cattle, would be the nation’s only concern.

Even in the mid 1970s a large section of the community was horrified at the continued use of aerial baiting yet, a minority group had permission to proceed with this highly questionable practice, and, with a minimum of publicity, contaminate the whole of the environment.

The situation frightened Berenice.

Domestic dog breeders more frequently were stipulating any dogs sold were not to go to country areas where aerial baiting had been carried out.

It was not unusual for people returning to the city with sick dogs to be warned by their vet about the possible hazards of drinking in streams possibly contaminated by aerial baiting.

In the winter of 1978, aerial baiting was again approved in national parks, although following the "Dingo Seminar", at least Ministerial approval had to be granted. 

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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Understanding Dingoes: Natural Behaviour in Domestication by Berenice Walters (1991)

Berenice and Snowgoose
Keeping Dingoes in a domestic environment must eventually lead to the dulling of the natural senses by which the dingo has survived as a wilderness animal, just as the sheep or cattle dog's natural working ability will deteriorate when it does not have access to regular work, and human selection for ability and tractability to work stock.

Therefore, I never cease to be both delighted and amazed at the 'naturalness' so often displayed by our Dingoes. For instance, if visitors come near one of our Cattle bitches when she has pups, she will show her protectiveness by defending her pups, sometimes with aggressive behaviour.

But the Dingo female will leave her pups ‘hidden’, and making a target of herself as she retreats, in a tactic she hopes will draw the 'enemy' away from her pups. There are many stories of wildlife using this decoy, even pretending to be injured.

Snowdrift's recent actions were of great interest. I had released him in the house yard, which is the favourite run, and then brought over Jedda for companionship. As always, before releasing her I wanted to make sure he knew the identity of this Dingo to avoid any over reaction by either of them.

I could not find Snowy at first, then I saw him standing quietly and unnaturally under a tree, like a statue - or a part of the bush. His ears were dropped, head low, hindquarters twisted. At -first I thought he had injured himself, but as I slowly approached with Jedda, I saw the very last segment of his tail move slightly. Then I realised that he had been camouflaging himself by standing so still, until he was sure just who accompanied me. As soon as he realised it was. Jedda, he came forward quite submissively, coyly acknowledging us both; whereupon both Snowy and Jedda took off like rockets in a joyful romp around the house, excitedly exploring and sniffing in a gush of enthusiasm and happiness. 

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Dingo Dads are the Best

Dingo dads are patient and caring 
At 6 weeks old Jarrah tried to mimic his dad's actions

Peter shows Jarrah the 'watering hole'

Jarrah can't resist cautiously pulling on Peter's tail. Peter seems to be saying 'Watch it, Kid'

Peter Pan nonchalentlychews on a bone while Dawn and their pups, Jedda and Jarrah, respectfully look on.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Show Ring, Dog Breeds and Dingoes

[In 1870] Sydney “show” breeders were, for the first time, able to acquire Hall’s Heelers. Although  these dogs were deemed the perfect cattle dog by stockmen and drovers in the “bush”, the Sydney “show” breeders felt the need to “improve” them. After some weird and wonderful experimental breedings, and by their own admissions, the city breeders dogs “lost a lot of working ability”.

Bert Howard, Australian Cattle Dog Historian

The Walters were one of the few cattle dog breeders whose dogs were both excellent working dogs and excelled in the show ring.

While Berenice was involved with the show dog world she saw first hand how the conformity of dogs changed from at the whim of breeders.

It was the reason she never wanted to see the Dingo in the show ring.  

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