Tuesday 30 April 2019

Dingo in need of help: Extract from the future biography of Berenice Walters

In 1976 the dingo had even less rights than today. The opinion of the lawmakers was it should not exist and if it did it should be exterminated. In late 1976 the case of a little dog picked up as a stray was brought to her attention. The following is an extract from Berenice Walters’ biography I am currently writing. ***

It is strange but true a stray dog can be hanging around the local Post Office, ignored by all; or it could, be happily playing with the school children at the local school. As a stray it is rightly picked up by the dog catcher. But it is just a lost dog. Label that friendly, lost animal a “Dingo" and it immediately assumes the proportions of a rabid wolf to the general public. 

Berenice received a call about a dog picked up in the Fairfield area. The dog-catcher had labelled it a Dingo. The next morning, she received an urgent call to saying an order had come from the Chief Secretary's Office to stop the release of the dog. It was to be destroyed without further question because it was a noxious animal.

At the time there was no way to prove 100% a dog resembling a Dingo was truly a Dingo. The same animal in black and tan resembling a Kelpie was labelled a Kelpie.

Berenice was filled with sadness to see the tiny, yellow, male dog. He was just a dog along with the dozens of other dogs penned; a nice clean, friendly fellow. He could just as easily been described as a cross Basenji. Why could he not have been treated the same as his kennel mates. He was just a dog, possibly a child’s much-loved pet. 

She considered the whole affair nothing less than a witch hunt. Pushing aside her concern about embarrassment she might cause Fairfield Council or the Chief Secretary's Department by showing interest in the dog, she saw it as an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the unfairness of the law.

If there was any hint a dog may have Dingo blood it had no rights and was to be put down immediately. The Council, and the Chief Secretary's Department did the only thing they could as the law stood. She thought it wry there were other dogs with Dingo blood in their veins, but they were not Dingo in colour and they were considered perfectly respectable. They were Australian Cattle Dogs.

The dog should have been treated like any other lost dog. If his owner claimed him then he should have the right to be released. No way should he be given special treatment and no way should he be released to a wildlife park. He was unsound and a poor sample whatever his breed. She hoped if he was claimed he would be dealt with as an unclaimed stray, not as a noxious animal.

The case gave her an opportunity to show the general public how the law had been twisted to annihilate a part of our National Heritage. It was another native animal condemned because of the whim of a minority of the population with no consideration for the future. Again, archaic laws were shown to be unjust. Laws brought about by superstitions and fears from the Middle Ages; fears of the unknown, the wild dog. 

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Tuesday 23 April 2019

Fraser Island Dingoes Are Not to Blame

Yet another dingo attack on Fraser Island, the third this year, has hit the headlines.

For visitors to the island there are signs and information about safe camping, not feeding the dingoes and not interacting with them.

Yet, tourists persist in ignoring the advice and it is the dingoes suffering.  Again, calls have gone out for a dingo cull but the voice of reason and criticism of the government’s policies and management of the island are getting louder. When will they be listened to?

Fraser Island is the dingoes’ home. They have more right to be there than the human holiday makers. Visitors are just that, visitors and need to respect the inhabitants and be responsible for their own safety.

We have been told rangers will be increased by 50 per cent and face-to-face contact with visitors will be bumped up following a review into the situation. Let’s hope it will happen, visitors will do the right thing and the dingoes won’t be killed. Revenge is not justified when it is taken for the wrong reasons.

The Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, the island's native title holders, issued a statement saying the attacks could have been avoided. A spokesperson for the corporation said:

"The BAC has been kept at arm’s length from the government’s dingo conservation and risk management strategy on K’gari [the traditional name for Fraser Island] and its associated awareness campaigns, since gaining our native title rights in 2014."

The statement called on the government to put in place "joint management arrangements" with the Butchulla people.

"It is time people are more accountable for the actions - Wongaris [dingoes] should not be sacrificed for human error or inciting interaction," the statement read.

Cheryl Bryant, spokeswoman for Save Fraser Island Dingoes, was quoted as saying:

"It goes back to people not doing the right thing.

"Visitors are coming into their territory, feeding them and taking photos of them on a daily basis so dingoes are now conditioned to approach people and see them as a food source."

Announcing the increase of ranger activity, Environment Minister, Leeanne Enoch said the extra rangers will ensure all visitors to the island are remaining vigilant and following the dingo-safe messaging.

Ms Enoch said the government was committed to supporting a healthy dingo population while minimising the risks to human safety and dingo welfare.

Ms Enoch said she hoped to further involve the Butchulla people with dingo management to keep residents and the 400,000 visitors to the island each year safe.

The government has made promises in the past. Let’s hope this time they are true to their word and put the dingoes first.

You can support the call for protection of the Fraser Island Dingoes by signing this petition. https://www.change.org/p/leeanne-enoch-minister-for-environment-queensland-stop-killing-fraser-island-dingoes-before-it-is-too-late?fbclid=IwAR1FJa8t1Ciun0clyyzdeGmGYHPlC-ULbrg7D5LJQoByzerYqGebFZnzn78

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Monday 15 April 2019

Dogs threaten cattle on the Walters property

In 1978 three red dogs were seen chasing the Walters stock, singling out calves. Quickly checking none of their dingoes had got out, they raced down to identify the dogs. They were collies. One very large red dog resembling a red Samoyed, one tri-coloured collie and one corgi type dog.

It was crucial for them to identify the dogs. Other farmers were likely to see these dogs chasing their stock and naturally thoughts would turn to the Walters dingoes.

The dogs were sighted on several occasions and sometimes heard barking at night. Finally, the local Pastures Protection Board and Council were advised. While explaining the case to the Council Pound Officer, the dogs were sighted about ¼ mile away and the officer was able to cut the dogs off and follow them home.

Apologies were received from the from the dogs’ owner and the Walters had no further trouble with them. Had this happened in an area inhabited by wild Dingoes, most would have token it for granted that Dingoes were the culprits.

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