Wild Dog & Pest Control

New drive to reinstate wild dog control in north-west Victoria

Sheep Central June 12, 2024

LEADING wild dog control proponent Geoff Power has urged the reinstatement of the dingo unprotection order in north-west Victoria after a national taxonomy body declared Australia’s dingoes are considered a breed of dog.

A National Wild Dog Action Plan statement today said last week the Australasian Mammal Taxonomy Consortium confirmed a large and growing body of research demonstrating the dingo is not considered a sub-species of wolf (Canis lupus dingo), but an ancient breed of dog (Canis familiaris).

The NWDAP said this brings into question the basis for the Victorian Government’s recent decision to end the dingo unprotection order in north-west Victoria.

The Victorian Government currently takes the view that the dingo is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 as Canis lupus dingo.

Sheep Central has been told that under Victorian law, all native animals, including dingoes, are considered protected wildlife under the Wildlife Act 1975 – regardless of taxonomy or nomenclature.

However, the NWDAP said the AMTC statement was signed by 20 of the nation’s most respected taxonomists and evolutionary biologists, from universities and museums across the country, and describes the rationale and scientific justification explaining why the dingo cannot be considered anything but an ancient breed of dog.

National Wild Dog Action Plan Coordination Committee chairman Geoff Power said the statement confirms what has been known for a long time now, that dingoes are an ancient breed of dog that does not meet the eligibility criteria for a threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998.

“The recent statement from the AMTC affirms the 2019 findings from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which also considered the evidence and determined the dingo to be a breed of dog, considered common and abundant across its range,” Mr Power said.

As a result of their 2019 review, the IUCN completely removed the dingo from the Red List of Threatened Species because it is not eligible for conservation consideration; the dingo’s status is not of conservation concern, the NWDAP said.

National Wild Dog Management coordinator Greg Mifsud said the updated taxonomy acknowledges the dingo as an ancient breed of dog, and this confirmation should impact on the Victorian Government’s current review into the state’s wild dog control program, particularly the dingo unprotection order.

“The Victorian Government’s unexplained reluctance to accept the internationally and nationally recognised species designation and their continued reliance on a decades-old and incorrect state-based listing under the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, baffles people and organisations negatively impacted by recent changes in control measures in northwest Victoria,” he said.

Mr Mifsud said any further reduction in current resources for the Victorian Wild Dog Program would see a dramatic increase in impacts on livestock producers from dingo attacks.

The NWDAP said the existing Victorian Wild Dog Program has conserved dingoes on millions of hectares of public land while limiting the devastating impacts these dogs can have on Victorian livestock producers, by controlling them in a 3km livestock protection buffer at the interface with a relatively small amount of private property. However, the Victorian Government removed the 3km buffer in March and since then wild dog/dingo attacks on livestock have increased in north-west Victoria.

The NWDAP Committee said it hopes to work with the Victorian Government to ensure management of dingoes and wild dogs continues to achieve a balance between conserving dingoes and protecting Victoria’s biodiversity and $4.5 billion sheep and wool industry.

AMTC position is not the only one – Dr Cairns

UNSW research fellow, canid and wildlife genomics, Dr Kylie Cairns said the position statement by the AMTC reflects the scientific opinions by a group of scientists.

“This is not the only accepted scientific opinion.

“The range of scientific names used by scientists for dingoes include Canis dingo, Canis lupus dingo, Canis familiaris and Canis familiaris dingo,” she said.

“Mr Mifsud and Mr Powers are misinformed about the impact of the AMTC position on the conservation status of dingoes.

“The taxonomy of dingoes, which is still under scientific debate, does not diminish the cultural, ecological and conservation value of dingoes as native wildlife,” Dr Cairns said.

Dr Cairns also pointed out that the International Union for Conservation of Nature Canid Specialist Group’s opinion that dingoes/NGSD are an evolutionarily significant unit of wild canid closely related to domestic dogs.

The group’s website states that the taxonomic name used for dingoes in the scientific literature continues to be debated, with Canis dingo, Canis lupus dingo, Canis hallstromi, Canis dingo hallstromi and Canis familiaris, C. familiaris (dingo), in current use (Crowther et al., 2014; Jackson et al., 2020; Koler-Matznick et al., 2004; Kreplins et al., 2019; Smith et al., 2019). Disagreement stems from uncertainty about the evolutionary history and domestication status of the lineage. Some regard the dingo is an ancient breed ultimately derived from early domestic dogs (Jackson et al., 2020; Jackson et al., 2019; Jackson et al., 2017) whilst others argue that dingoes did not originate from a domesticated lineage (Ballard & Wilson, 2019; Cairns, 2021; Crowther et al., 2014; Shipman, 2021; Smith et al., 2019). Whilst Australian and New Guinea dingoes were previously considered separate lineages, molecular evidence has confirmed their close relationship and collective distinctiveness from modern domestic dogs (Surbakti et al 2020).

It is not appropriate to refer to dingoes/NGSD as a breed or feral, they are wild canids. The IUCN CSG expects that ongoing scientific research will resolve uncertainty about the status of dingoes/NGSD/HWD, the group says on its website.

A Victorian Government statement said the dingo is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 as Canis lupus dingo in Victoria.

Under Victorian law, all native animals, including dingoes, are considered protected wildlife under the Wildlife Act 1975. In October 2023, the Government committed to complete a review by 1 October 2024. This review will include the policy and regulatory setting for the management and control of dingoes in Victoria, the government statement said.


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  1. Judith Cardwell, June 14, 2024

    What an irony that Kylie Cairns cannot accept the statement by 20 leading geneticists and taxonomists that the dingo is just another breed of dog and not a separate species, and yet the Victorian Government is basing its current push to treat all wild dogs as purebred dingoes based on only one study done by Kylie Cairns with funding from the Australian Dingo Foundation of which she is a scientific adviser.

    • Ellisha Martion, June 21, 2024

      Hi Judith,
      I think you will find that those 20 scientists have a vested interest in killing dingoes. That is, they are employed, funded or advise government ag departments, CISS, NWDAP, AWI and not the environmental or biodiversity departments.
      So, you may want to investigate the their biases.
      Dr Kylie Cairns’ work was peer-reviewed and has actual results. Their “work” is just their opinion and ignores new relevant genetic research using updated methods.
      Any genetic research on dingoes prior to her study published last year is unreliable – Cairns’ research proved this.
      Dingoes are classed as a native species at a federal level and by every mainland state/territory government and are not classified as a breed of dog by any state or territory,. It’s literally this group that has come to this conclusion to protect their own jobs.

  2. John and Rhonda Crawford, June 13, 2024

    Thanks for keeping us informed.

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