WILD dog control in Victoria is set to become an election issue as dingo proponents urge an end to current management practices and farmers campaign to halt the proposed introduction of dingoes into some parks.
The issue was highlighted by an ABC 7.30 Report program on 14 November that featured footage of wild dogs/dingoes in traps as part of the National Wild Dog Action Plan measures.
After the ABC program, Animals Australia called for the Andrews Government in Victoria to “stop killing Victoria’s threatened dingoes before they become the latest species to join the state’s growing list of extinct mammals.”
The animal rights group said the ABC 7.30 Report program aired “harrowing” footage obtained by Defend The Wild, of dingoes being trapped and killed by state government wild dog controllers in the state’s north.
Also in response to the 7.30 Report program, the National Wild Dog Action Plan declared it supported the conservation of protected dingoes in Victoria’s national parks whilst limiting the impacts of wild dogs on neighbouring properties.
National Wild Dog Management coordinator Greg Mifsud said 20 percent of the state’s national park and state forests is being managed for wild dogs in the perimeter of the public estate east of the Hume Highway.
“A total of 80 percent of the national parks and state forests is protecting dingoes, wild dogs and their hybrids where they undertake their ecosystem role and are part of the biodiversity.
“Those wild dogs caught moving out of the parks and continuing onto private lands where they cause an impact are killed,” he said.
“The management program is facilitating the conservation of dingoes in the national park system in eastern Victoria.”
The action plan said the ABC 7.30 Report program failed to mention wild dogs, dingoes and dingo-like dogs are distributed right across Victoria’s Alpine National Park.
Mr Mifsud said the wild dog control program delivered within a 3km livestock protection zone on national park boundaries acting similar to a firebreak protecting park and private land, limiting wild dogs moving onto private land to kill livestock and equally limiting domestic dogs moving into the vast national parks and breeding with the protected dingo.
Mr Mifsud said an average of 500-600 wild dogs have been removed by the wild dog program trappers in the east of the state each year for the past decade. The dingo population in the Victorian landscape remained healthy and was not threatened with extinction, he said.
“The annual number of wild dogs trapped hasn’t declined which would indicate the dingo population inside the national park is healthy, sustainable and producing the same number of offspring each year,” he said.
Mr Mifsud if dingoes dispersing from the parks aren’t controlled in the 3km livestock protection zone they will move out and likely attack livestock and domestic pets on bordering properties and possibly on the outskirts of regional townships and communities.
“Once they are established in these areas, they are much harder to control as the tools currently used are limited in built-up areas, putting at risk livestock and domestic pets on rural properties and hobby farms.
“Professional wild dog controllers are required to dispatch those wild dogs under a current nationally agreed code of practice and standard operating procedures, which they do with the utmost professionalism.”
Mr Mifsud said the reduction of wild dogs and foxes under the humane and best practice baiting and trapping program has resulted in reduced stock losses whilst maintaining healthy populations of dingoes in the state’s national parks and state forests in the east of the state.
He said the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions is working with its partners including the Victorian Government on solutions to limit the time wild dogs remain in traps.
“These include alert systems that notify wild dog controllers of a dog in a trap and devices that will deliver a lethal dose of poison to render the animals unconscious followed by a humane death soon after being captured.”
Mr Mifsud said the 7.30 Report program represented an attempt to make wild dog management a political issue.
“Absolutely, the fact that they released this just after the government going into caretaker mode is a perfect example of that.”
Mr Mifsud said the 7.30 Report footage of dogs shown in distress in traps was influenced by those filming the animals.
He was also critical of the program blurring the images of damage to sheep attacked by wild dogs, while showing images of distressed dogs unedited.
Animals Australia calls for end to the killing of dingoes
Animals Australia said though dingoes have been listed as a threatened and protected native species in Victoria for more than a decade, they are trapped and shot, and are the target of mass ground and aerial baiting with 1080 poison across hundreds of kilometres of national park habitat each year to appease agricultural interests.
The animal rights body said the Victorian Government has made no effort to research how many dingoes remain in the wild, and claimed while State Government figures showed 1249 livestock were killed by predation in 2021-22 from 22 million livestock, 1376 dingoes were killed.
Animals Australia strategy director Lyn White said the government’s do not include all the dingoes and other native species killed by its aerial bombardment of national parks with 1080 poison.
“Given that Australia holds the dubious title as the global leader of mammal extinctions and Victoria has the highest number of threatened species of all the states, it’s appalling that the government is deliberately driving a keystone species towards extinction through its destructive policies.
“The very behaviour that led to dingoes being listed as ‘threatened’ and ‘protected’ in Victoria continues, facilitated and promoted by the government, with even a $120 bounty paid to hunters for every dingo shot,” she said.
Animals Australia has also called on the Andrews Government to adopt the recommendations of last December’s parliamentary Inquiry into the Decline of Ecosystems in Victoria, which called for the “Order of Council” to be revoked, the use of 1080 poison to be banned and the bounty to be reviewed.
The government was due to respond to the inquiry report within six months, but is yet to do so.
Animals Australia believes dingoes perform a vital role in Victoria’s ecosystems by keeping introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats, at bay.
“Nearly all of the animals that are cruelly trapped and killed have been found to be purebred dingoes or dingo-dominant hybrids and not ‘wild dogs’,” Ms White said.
Ms White said dingoes have also been demonised for lamb deaths often caused by management issues or fox predation.
“The millions of dollars being invested by the Andrews Government in cruel culling programs of a threatened species should instead be invested in available alternatives and further innovations that will sustain peaceful co-existence.”
Crawfords continue the fight against dingo reintroductions
Victoria Valley wool growers, the Crawford family, have been running a campaign opposing the reintroduction of dingoes into the Grampians,
John and Rhonda Crawford said the reintroduction of dingo/hybrid wild dogs into any park in Victoria would affect farmers, rural and tourism businesses and residents who will vote in the upcoming state election on the 26th November 2022.
“The current Labor government has not publicly responded to the recommendations made in the Inquiry into Ecosystems Decline in Victoria Report – released on 2nd December 2021 and therefore, the Labor position is unclear into the future,” the couple said in a media statement.
They said they had been told by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily DÁmbrosio that the Victorian Government is committed to the conservation of the dingo, but there are no current plans to reintroduce dingoes in Victoria.
“But the big concern is that the Labor Minister/Government did not rule it out in the future.”
The Crawford said the Liberal/National Coalition in Victoria has publicly stated it is opposed to the ‘Decline of Ecosystems in Victoria’ report recommendations and would not reintroduce dingoes in the future.
“People need to be sure of the position of the candidates they vote for in both houses of the upcoming Victorian State Election in two weeks,” the Crawford said.
“The Independent and minor parties are yet to make their positions clear on this issue publicly.
“Once the election is over, the newly elected incoming government will have to respond to these Recommendations made in the Inquiry into Ecosystems Decline in Victoria Report.”
I am the only Victorian election candidate with any policy on Dingo protection and conservation, and it is comprehensive. If elected, I will fight to end the cruel persecution of Dingoes, poisoning and the bounty for scalp, dispose of the misnomer “wild dog” and repeal of the Order in Council. I hope you will support me and help me to be elected so that I can bring real change for Dingoes.