Dingoes, despite their status as a threatened and protected species in Victoria, are being targeted and killed to appease the interests of the animal agriculture industry. Although alternative options exist, the Victorian Government not only permits, but encourages dingoes to be killed by poison, trapping and shooting. They even offer a cash bounty on dingoes’ heads — meaning anyone with a gun licence can be financially rewarded for killing these native animals.
The killing of this ‘protected’ native species is government-approved
A recent investigation by our courageous friends at Farm Transparency Project and Defend the Wild exposed the awful treatment of this iconic species under threat.
They documented dingoes in Victorian bushland who had their paws crushed by jaw traps, forced to wait terrified and in pain for the arrival of government ‘wild dog controllers’. One dingo spent an agonising 24 hours trapped and exposed to the elements. The investigation footage shows the dingoes struggling in a panic – even twisting their limbs around trees while trying to free themselves. These trapped animals may never have even set foot on a farm – yet their lives would be ended by a bullet and a flawed government policy.
This indiscriminate killing of dingoes, via poisoning, trapping and shooting, contributed to them being listed as a threatened and protected species in 2007. But despite this, a government loophole called a Ministerial Order in Council ‘unprotects’ dingoes on private land or in buffer zones within national and state parks on the basis of ‘protecting livestock’ like sheep and lambs.
Incredibly, despite sanctioning the killing of a threatened species, the Victorian Government does not know how many dingoes are killed each year in total. Nor do they know how many remain in the wild, leaving researchers and advocates with dire concerns for the continued survival of the already threatened species. The only published figure is that of dingoes who are killed through the state’s ‘bounty system‘.
Dingoes are incorrectly called ‘wild dogs’ to make more palatable the killing of a threatened species. Research indicates 99% of Australia’s so-called ’wild dogs’ are in fact pure dingoes or very close relatives of pure dingoes. Domestic dogs rarely manage to survive and breed in the wild.
“Wild dog management” programs therefore are, in essence, dingo eradication programs.
Dingoes are of cultural and ecological importance
Dingoes have lived in Australia for at least 5,000 years. The traditional custodians of the land treasure the dingo as a totem species – this iconic animal plays an important part in Indigenous culture and history.
While permitting and facilitating the killing of dingoes, the Victorian Government has made little effort to understand their role in the region’s ecosystems. As apex predators, dingoes ensure populations of other animals are kept in balance.
The justification for lethal control measures is flawed
The loss of sheep (who are bred to be killed for their meat and wool) to predators is minimal when compared to losses related to farm management practices. In fact, studies show that sheep deaths from predation (primarily foxes) are as low as 7% in Victoria , making the ‘threat to livestock’ justification for killing dingoes deeply flawed.
In stark contrast, the deaths of 80% of lambs each year nationally are found to be the result of farm management practices such as farmers not providing shelter, selectively breeding for multiple births, starvation, and mis-mothering. Rather than the industry proactively addressing these preventable deaths, dingoes are being demonised and given a death sentence.
There are 15 million introduced sheep in Victoria and estimated to be less than 6,000 native dingoes  – a frighteningly low number. This native species is being pushed further out of their habitat largely due to farming, and then targeted and killed for simply existing in some of the spaces they have left to call home.
Australian wildlife are suffering from cruel and agonising poisoning methods
The use of 1080 poison – which is banned globally except in Australia and New Zealand – is causing the excruciating deaths of this iconic native animal, as well as other ‘non-target’ animals.
This poison is used by baiting on the ground as well as by air. In May 2022 alone, 3,732 baits of poisoned meat were dropped by aircraft every 100 metres across over 400kms of Victorian land.
The Victorian Government must properly protect native wildlife
In December 2021, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Decline of Ecosystems led to the following recommendations being made:
- The Order in Council that declares dingoes ‘unprotected’ in certain zones be revoked
- The Fox and ‘Wild Dog’ bounty system be reviewed
- Agriculture Victoria improve non-lethal strategies
- The phase-out of the use of 1080 in July 2022, starting in national parks, be considered.
The Andrews Government was required to respond to the recommendations within 6 months but has failed to do so. Meanwhile, it continues to pour millions of tax-payer funding into the widespread killing of dingoes.
These resources should instead be put into more humane, non-lethal measures to protect farmed animals from predation, such as electric exclusion fencing and supporting the use of guardian animals.
How you can help dingoes
Call on the Andrews Government to revoke the Order in Council that declared dingoes as ‘unprotected wildlife’ and to support landholders to use non-lethal management options.
Speak up for dingoes today.
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