Tag Archives: ‘wild dog’

Australia poisons Dingo, the native dog: its what we do for sheep

Kirra-dingo_by-Jennifer-Parkhurst_supplied

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHRUG: IS THIS DOG A ‘NATIVE’ YET?

A NOTICE WARNING of fox and wild dog baiting in local forests appeared in the Public Notice section of Narooma News, on Wednesday May 26.

Animals to be targeted under this program are foxes and wild dogs. Dingoes have been classed as “wild dogs” for the purpose of the scheme, even though as a native animal with an important role to play as an apex predator in the eco-system they should be entitled to protection.

EDITORIAL COMMENTThis ABC article (linked here) comes around to recognise the dingo as apex predator but still peppers the report with pastoralist ideas of what is a ‘pest’ to be removed, including the native kangaroos, and what might be allowed to live.

Tragically for the already disrupted balance of nature other native animals will also die a hideous, painful death as a result of ingesting 1080 poison.

This poison is so damaging to people, birds and animals it has been banned in most other countries of the world. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) reports that: “1080 is toxic to all living species, including microbes, plants, insects, birds and humans. There are reports that Nazis considered using the poison on Jewish prisoners in concentration camps but decided against it because of danger to the guards.”

Fire and drought: let’s follow it with poisoning

Hasn’t our wildlife suffered enough death and dislocation as a result of flood, fire and famine over the last few years without being subjected to further pain and loss from such an indiscriminate and dangerous scheme?

RELATED ARTICLE:  Poisoned pills showered on burned parks and reserves.  

Are we so little concerned with environmental issues and the fact that Australia already has one of the highest wildlife extinction rates in the world that we allow our state forests to become killing fields for the next four months?

So why is this plan being condoned by the state government and accepted by local councils? Presumably it is in response to some farmers complaints about threats to their livestock in areas adjoining state forests, but what exactly is this threat? And aren’t there more humane ways of livestock protection, even if will mean less income for manufacturers of 1080?

Domestic dog owners know

If you are the owner of a dog that has eaten part of poisoned carrion dropped into your backyard, or of a maremma guardian dog protecting sheep that died in agony you will certainly have an opinion! Animal Rights lawyer, Marilyn Nuske is even challenging the legality of using 1080 poison.

As a controversial issue among the relatively few people who know of this scheme, why haven’t the views of animal rights groups, humanitarians, ecologists, scientists and biologists been discussed, debated and publicised before this war on wildlife was  been declared as a fait accompli?

Indigenous people for whom the dingo is a totem animal believe we must learn to live in harmony with Nature.

In the words of David Attenborough —

“It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to provide a planet that provides a home — not just for us — but for all life on earth”.

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NDPRP opinion piece – What The Courier Mail refused to publish

By Ernest Healy

“Drought, Dingoes and Environmental Reality – Time for a Rethink”

Severe drought has again highlighted the hardship of Queensland pastoralists, particularly those in arid areas. Familiar topics have again come to the fore: the doubtful wisdom of farming marginal lands, kangaroos taking scarce pasture, ‘wild dog’ predation on stock and rampaging pigs breaking down the dingo fence. Everything, it seems conspires against the struggling farmer.

The imagery used seems understandable – ‘killing machines’ taking the life out of the west, wave upon wave with almost military precision, billions lost to the economy and sheep farmers driven out of the industry. Political demands abound for governments to do more to combat the ‘wild-dog’ scourge. Instinctively, politicians make the right noises.

HowlingDingoes
(image: Jennifer Parkhurst)

While the silhouette of drought and rural desperation is etched into the Australian consciousness, the time has, nevertheless, come for a reassessment of this man-against-nature view of drought and our collective responses to it. Attitudes towards the dingo are a good starting point for reflection.

Why is such a reassessment necessary? Because, there is a now a deepening and unresolved contradiction between a growing body of independent environmental research, which highlights the importance of healthy dingo populations for environmental balance and biodiversity conservation and long-established anti-dingo or ‘wild-dog’ sentiment , which deems the dingo a pest animal to be eradicated or, at least, perpetually controlled through lethal means across the landscape.

The legal status of the dingo across much of Australia still largely reflects this historically entrenched pest-animal perspective. However legislators respond in future, the days are over when dingo destruction can be confidently promoted as consistent with good environmental stewardship. Farmers and their peak representative organisations need to undergo this realisation.

The contest between environmental research, which by and large finds that dingoes should be protected in the service of good environmental management, and established ant-dingo attitudes, remains complex. This is because dingoes can hybridise with their domestic counterpart, the domestic dog (Even a European wolf can breed with a poodle). As when putting a drop of coloured dye in a bucket of water, all of the water, eventually, will be coloured to some minor degree, domestic dog genes will ultimately spread throughout the wild dingo population.

Pastoral industry advocates, fearful of the idea that dingoes should be managed as something more than pest animals, let alone protected as an environmental asset, have latched hold of hybridisation to argue that what currently exists in the wild are not dingoes, but hybrids, which ought not be considered indigenous or wildlife, and are therefore ineligible for protection. The term ‘wild dog’ thereby becomes more than a description, but a politically loaded term designed to legitimise the continued destruction of what is still, essentially, a native animal.

Disingenuously, it is at times further argued that, in controlling hybrids through ‘wild-dog’ control (poisoning and trapping on a landscape scale), protection is afforded remnant populations of ‘pure’ dingoes.

What then should we draw from the science which argues for a more benevolent attitude towards dingoes, particularly given the grievances of battling farmers struck by drought? A key consideration is the ecological function of wild dingo populations, even if they have undergone some degree of hybridisation.

If the role played by hybridised wild populations is essentially the same as the pre European dingo, or is shown to provide a net environmental benefit for the preservation of other native species, then considerations of genetic purity become an unnecessary distraction.

This line of thinking is lent support by the fact that much of the in-the-field research into the role of the dingo in maintaining ecological balance, as a top order predator, has been conducted with populations that were probably hybridised to some degree.

Evidence suggests that hybridised dingo populations are nothing like a first generation dingo-dog cross. Much of the hybridisation is many generations old. And, importantly, selection pressure is strong.

Prominent dingo researcher, Dr Laurie Corbett, once commented that, “although he believed dingoes in north eastern Victoria had undergone some hybridisation, this was not apparent. He speculated that this was because strong selection pressure in this region was effectively pushing the hybrids back into an ancestral conformation.
Farming now needs to be environmentally responsible in ways not imagined even one generation ago.”

Contact Secretary Ernest Healy: Ernest.healy@monash.edu
President Ian Gunn: Ian.gunn@monash.edu
Vice President: Jennifer Parkhurst: fidingo@bigpond.net.au

‘Great spirits have always
encountered violent opposition from
mediocre mind’
Albert Einstein

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