The uneasy relationship between tourists and dingoes on the world’s largest sand island, Queensland’s Fraser Island, took a turn for the worse yesterday when Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers rounded up a dingo and ordered it euthanised.
The animal had been involved in “a number of aggressive incidents”, including biting two tourists, QPWS said.
Rangers had been closely monitoring the dingo, which was fitted with a satellite tracker collar, after it had menaced tourists over recent months, the Fraser Coast Chronicle reported.
A QPWS spokeswoman said the decision to destroy the dingo was made after the animal bit a 19-year-old male tourist on the thigh on Sunday.
It followed an incident last month when a woman was bitten on her left leg and right calf by the same dingo while taking photos.
Measures to keep humans and dingos apart have included a lengthy dingo fence on Cathedral Beach, completed last year at a cost of AUD 350,000.
The fence was ordered in 2013, when a dingo badly bit a woman’s arm when she slipped and fell in the surf. That attack was so severe that when the woman tottered to her feet, the dingo was still hanging from her arm. Rangers shot the animal dead.
The problem, locals say, is that tourists keep feeding the animals.
Dingos and human visitors have quite a history on the island, although at most times they coexist without incident.
There have been very serious attacks, the worst in 2001 when two dingoes killed nine-year-old Clinton Gage near Waddy Point on the island. His death and the subsequent culling of 31 dingoes caused much consternation among residents.
In November 2012, rangers killed a six-month-old dingo after 25 incidents that included “lunging” at a family, running out of bushland at high speed towards volleyball players, and grabbing two tourists on separate occasions with its mouth, though not breaking the skin on either occasion.
Dingo experts say the end of dingo mating season, which runs from March to June, poses the highest risk for “negative dingo-human interactions”.
Meanwhile, tourists are encouraged to remain vigilant and report any negative dingo encounters to a QPWS ranger or phone 13 74 68.
Written by Peter Needham