Tuesday 7 March 2023
In a letter to the Sun Newspaper in the 1970s Berenice wrote scathingly of the planned aerial baiting and its contamination of the environment. She mentioned particularly the cruelty of winter baiting, trapping, and shooting.
The Dingo whelps in the late autumn or early winter. The reason given for aerial baiting in the late winter was that it was the time when the dingo was most savage.
But this is the time the parents are searching for food for their pups, and they don't go far from their den.
Being hungry they would be more likely to take a bait, and of course, the pups left to starve to death in the den, or if older, and as they have been so often seen, wandering through the bush starving, crying for their parents, or dead from starvation.
The society received countless phone calls from persons who had seen helpless pups in the bush dead or dying.
A head official of a graziers Association rang and severely criticised her "one sided criticism" after failing to interest her in a litter of pups he had taken from the north coast. She also mentioned the slaughter of kangaroos.
"We hate to do this," said the hunter, "but they [kangaroos] are reaching plague proportions".
So, he kept on shooting the roos with 22 rifles. These are cheaper to fire than a high powered weapon, but generally only maim. The hunters would then go around killing off the wounded animals, or those they could find.
Berenice believed this type of culling leads to greater numbers in forthcoming seasons - fewer animals, more feed, more animals. She further believed the answer to many of the problems is proper fences to keep kangaroos out of pasture improved properties. With the roo restricted to leaner pastures, nature will control the birth rate naturally.
She wrote that if these unfortunate animals must be slaughtered at least high powered weapons should be used, an instant and humane death.
She also mentioned the disgusting sight of pigs being torn to pieces by dogs specially bred for savagery, and aggressiveness.
And yet the poor Dingo, and wolf, nature's weapons for culling the sick and weak, completely devoid of the stamina and savage courage, is delegated to the bottom of the pack - on the one hand derisively condemned because of its cowardice on the other hand accused of the most mind staggering feats of savagery and wanton killing.
She often commented that she firmly believed it is only the domestic dogs, bred in man's own image, that would be capable of these horrific attacks on stock and humans.
Sunday 12 February 2023
The sounds of soft puppy voices, urgent sucking, and the scratching of tiny feet awaken us after a long and exciting night.
Sunlight suddenly bursts into our bedroom penetrating the thick forest of gum trees.
A mother and her newborn litter are snug in their box in a corner of our room. She is a glorious golden animal, her pups deep mahogany, the coat short, fine, and silky with a dark stripe down the spine. With gentle and loving care, she hugs them to her.
Only a few hours old and they are vigorously struggling for life.
This is not only the birth of another day. For these children of the wild, it is hopefully, the birth of another era. They are of a breed so feared and hated - they are Dingoes, the native dog of Australia. *
What could the future hold for these pups born of tame parents into the world of man? Could they lead the
way to a better understanding of this maligned breed? Conditioned at birth to the domestic environment, carefully reared and trained with understanding and sympathy, could their skills be harnessed and used for the betterment of mankind? And what had domesticity to offer this proud independent and ancient breed?
From early childhood, I had been filled with an overwhelming curiosity about the Dingo, wolf, and other wild breeds of dog. A visit to the zoo meant one thing - Dingoes. I marvelled at the cat-like grace of their agile bodies; the brilliance of their golden coats dazzled me.
But their deep and hauntingly beautiful dark brown eyes filled me with unbearable sadness. These were not the eyes of an insatiable and evil killer; they were the eyes of a dog, a highly intelligent and sensitive breed; a proud animal whose eyes mirrored a great inner sadness.
One day I knew I was destined to be deeply involved with this incredibly beautiful animal, whose very existence had been furtively disguised under a cloak of suspicion and mystery since 1788 when the Europeans first settled in Australia. This is a strange anomaly shared with the wolf and other wild dogs.
"The only good Dingo is a dead Dingo" is a frequently repeated statement in Australia, as is "The only good coyote, is a dead coyote" in the U.S.A.
However, those few who have questioned these statements more often came up against strong opposition views. The incredible lack of knowledge and understanding of our native dog has been largely brought about by a grazing fraternity that has deliberately sabotaged the reputation of the Dingo by smothering it in an impenetrable pall of secrecy, classifying it as noxious or vermin so that its destruction is mandatory, and, under the guise of 'Dingo Control' (killing Dingoes) has embarked on massive programmes of extermination to control a very real dog problem, caused for the most part by domestic breeds that have become feral, or the uncontrolled pets of irresponsible dog owners.
The public would not tolerate poison and trapping campaigns aimed at the numerous domestic breeds, but the killing of Dingoes was generally accepted as a necessary evil by a society brainwashed into believing this dog to be a monster, capable of an insatiable and diabolical lust to kill.
* Note: When Berenice wrote this article in 1982 Dingoes were still considered a breed of dog – a wild dog.
Tuesday 7 February 2023
Reply: Notorious – or famous
Interviewer: (dead silence)
Interviewer: You don’t mean you are going to tell us Dingoes don’t attack stock.
Reply: You tell me a breed of dog that does not.
Interviewer: You’ve got something there.
(Berenice published this interview in Merigal Magazine in June 1981. She doesn’t mention who the Dingo advocate is being interviewed but I have a very strong suspicion it was her)
Sunday 29 January 2023
|The final design - Copyright Australia Post - used with permission.|
Berenice would often go to bed depressed and frustrated about what to do next to further the cause and wake in the morning with a bolt of inspiration.
She received a reply to her enquiry within a few days advising her that an issue of stamps titled 'Dogs of Australia' was planned for release in early 1980. The letter advised that as the release was to be in two years the information was to be kept confidential. It also requested a photo be submitted.
The stamps featured the Dingo, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, Border Collie and Australian Terrier. Original photographs were accepted for the design. The photo submitted by Berenice depicted Snowgoose, as an adult Alpine bitch. A separate photo of Napilia, Napoleon’s daughter, a tropical pup, was added to the design.
When the stamp was released one newspaper ran the headline: 20c BOUNTY POSTED ON THE DINGO.
Berenice was heartened a further sign of a change in attitude towards the Dingo was imminent when the image was chosen for the prestigious 20c stamp. 20c was the cost of a standard letter, making it the most common of the stamps in circulation.
She believed “the inclusion of the Dingo, the dog of the original inhabitants of Australia, would be hailed the world over as a decisive step forward in the annals of appreciation of that which belongs to us all, our national heritage”.
Ironically, at the time, the Dingo was still regarded as vermin by all state and territory governments and still had a bounty on its head in Victoria.
The inclusion of the Dingo stamp in the “Dogs of Australia” set drew enthusiastic acclaim from overseas.
In a letter from the USA, Dr E Klinghammer of the North American Wildlife Park Foundation wrote: “What a victory to have the Dingo on a stamp at last. It is beautiful. People in this country have been working on a wolf stamp, but so far without success. I am sure that gave you a great boost, and I hope that the people in your country will do all they can to accept the Dingo on his own terms….”
Snowgoose’s story is told in the book For the Love of a Dingo by Berenice Walters and Pamela King. Available through the website www.pam.id.au
Tuesday 24 January 2023
Despite State Government intervention in the past, the horror of aerial baiting continues. Why should the whole of our wildlife be put at risk in the maniacal pursuit of the extermination of the wild dog?
For 200 years we believed without question that our heritage was not worth protecting if it interfered with the making of money.
We believed without question that the only good Dingo was a dead Dingo.
Now we are expected to stand by in mute horror as the mass slaughter of our wildlife by aerial baiting continues.
The spectacle of local birds and pets dying in Moss Vale recently should have struck home what selective hand baiting can do. Because we saw the results we were incensed.
Because we can't see what aerial baiting is doing must we hide our heads in the sand like the ostrich and pretend it does not exist?
We are told the reason for the baiting ... winter is the time of year when the Native Dog is most savage and does the most damage.
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 while the pups slowly starve to death, or fall prey to other hungry animals while pitifully searching for their missing parents, starvation forcing them from the safety of their den.
Positive extinction of some of our rarer native fauna must also be the end result of aerial and indiscriminate baiting.
For how much longer must the white man and his sheep and cattle be our only concern?
A large section of our community is horrified at the continued use of aerial, baiting and yet a minority group can be given permission to proceed with this highly questionable programme, and with a minimum of publicity, contaminate the whole of the environment
This frightens me.
It is no longer unusual to be requested by people with dogs for sale the animals not to go to country areas where aerial baiting has been carried out.
It is 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 that could be contaminated as a result of aerial baiting.
The use of 1080 poison was banned in the United States because it was recorded again and again that it does have a very substantial effect on non-target mammals and birds.
A whim of fashion - or a realisation of the possible dire effects of the indiscriminate use of such a highly dangerous poison.
With the continuance of the aerial baiting programmes to the north of the State, the usual crop of phone calls from concerned people and the media have been received - people frightened and frustrated at their inability to accept the necessity of this debatable method of controlling the wild dog; people who have huddled in their homes in anguish as the plane passed over on its ominous journey spelling death and destruction to what of us are proud to claim as our National Heritage.
No one is denying that wild dogs attacking stock must be controlled but has anyone the right to contaminate the whole of the environment, killing the innocent as well as the guilty, in this pursuit?
Don't let us sit back in ignorant satisfaction that aerial baiting is controlling the wild dog problem (despite the possible extermination of non-target mammals and birds). Improved methods of control must urgently be found.
* This article was included in Merigal Magazine in October 1979. In March 1980 it was sent as an open letter to newspapers. But, has anything really changed?
Monday 16 January 2023
Berenice got her first dingo in the mid-1970s.
She was a wild born pup given to Berenice “no questions asked.”
After twelve months, Berenice recorded that Dora was not proving to be a docile, affectionate, and fawning pet.
She did not expect her to.
Berenice wrote of Dora:
All the instincts are sharp. She is a wild animal with a wild animal’s strong sense of self preservation and self reliance. The law of the jungle is uppermost – that which cannot dominate is dominated – the survival of the fittest.
By the same token, I have not found her to be savage, untrainable, or unpredictable. She is strong willed; she is affectionate; she is obedient though sometimes wilful; she is gentle, she is proud. She is mine alone……..or am I hers?