Monday, 10 February 2020

Wild Dog or Dingo

There is a loud and clear message coming from conservationists and scientists for the Dingo to be classified distinctly different to wild dogs, but our governments are not listening. Pure dingoes are lumped together as wild dogs along with hybrids and feral domestic dogs.

The dingo advocates put forth several convincing scientific arguments as to why Dingoes should be classified as a distinct species.

If you would like detailed information about these theories these are some of the authors of scientific papers I recommend:

  • Bradley Smith Senior Lecturer in Psychology, CQ University Australia
  • Kylie M Cairns Adjunct associate lecturer, UNSW
  • Mathew Crowther Associate professor, University of Sydney
  • Euan Ritchie Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University
  • Corey J. A. Bradshaw Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology, Flinders University
There are also several pro-dingo Facebook and other social media sites worth following. One I recommend for accurate ‘dingo info’ is Aussie Canis Dingo Day

How the Dingo came to be included as a ‘wild dog’ in legislation across the country is the aspect I wish to discuss here.

First, it needs to be remembered that, until recent times, dingoes were classified as a breed of dogs. At a Dingo Seminar initiated by Premier Wran to review 1080 baiting in the National Parks, Berenice Walters is recorded as saying:

I think you will always have the public against Pasture Protection Boards while you call it Dingo Destruction Boards because everybody is awake up that Dingo is a dog.

She suggested it would be more acceptable, and appropriate if the Board responsible for the control of wild dogs (meaning any breed of dog attacking stock) be changed from the Dingo Destruction Board to Wild Dog Control Board, thus removing the implied emphasis Dingoes are responsible for ALL attacks.

Mutual respect and understanding had developed between Mr Goodfellow, Director of the Moss Vale Pastures Protection Board (the "Dingo Destruction Man") and Berenice Walters (the “Dingo Lady”). During his term of office, Mr Goodfellow lobbied on behalf Berenice and the Australian Native Dog Conservation Society for the Dingo Destruction Board to be replaced by the Wild Dog Control Board. The basis for this change was considered a crucial step in taking the implied emphasis off the Dingo as a sheep killer and acknowledge domestic dogs gone wild were most frequently the culprits.

Why do scientists and dingo enthusiasts now want to change this terminology?

The answer is easy. In addition to historical and scientific facts, governments have found it easier, particularly in relation to attacks on livestock, to eradicate dingoes by classifying dingoes, hybrids and domestic dogs all as ‘wild dogs.’ If sheep or cattle are being attacked in an area, they are free to target all ‘wild dogs’ as suspects whether guilty or not.

Dr Kylie Cairns said: “We need to consider our terminology because calling them wild dogs is misleading. We also need a better balance between conservation and protecting livestock.”

She added: “When they talk about conservation, they say dingo. But when it’s management, they talk about wild dogs.”

From my own point of view, it is simply a case of governments adapting terminology to suit their aims in pandering to graziers without requiring farmers to use humane methods of protecting stock.

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