Victorian Ministers turn a blind eye to hunting of a listed threatened species – the dingo

As it stands, the Victorian policy and regulatory framework for the protection of Dingoes, Australia’s native apex terrestrial predator is a mess. It is ill-informed, environmentally destructive and is a product of governmental incompetence. Although listed as a threatened native animal under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, protective measures are so flawed and open to abuse that dingoes are hunted and, in practice, receive no more protection than they did prior to being listed as threatened in 2010. In Victoria the threatened species listing of the dingo is a cruel farce.

Environmental experts have repeatedly appealed to the Victorian Environment and Agriculture ministers to correct these deficiencies. In the opinion of AFCAD Inc., whether through ignorance or callous indifference, the relevant Victorian ministers have failed in their duty of care towards the Dingo and Victorian ecosystems, for which healthy dingo populations are important.

The responsible ministers are Lily D’Ambrosio (Environment) and Gayle Tierney (Agriculture).

Dingoes continue to be hunted in areas where they are legally protected – no effective compliance

Even within the limits of the currently inadequate policy framework for the protection of dingoes, the opportunities for abuse are obvious and remain unaddressed by the Victorian government.

Three key deficiencies with the current policy settings are:

  1. An ecologically meaningless distinction between pure dingoes (which are listed as wildlife in Victoria) and so-called ‘wild dogs’, (listed as an ‘established invasive pest to be killed where possible). Environmental experts have repeatedly warned the Victorian government that the term “wild dog” misleads the public into thinking that it is something other than dingoes being killed in Victoria and obscures the fact that these animals are ecologically significant. So-called ‘wild dogs’ in Victoria (and Australia) are either pure or predominantly dingo in their genetic make-up and not feral domestic dogs. The best available evidence shows that feral dogs are virtually absent in the wild in Australia.
  2. Even pure dingoes, which are listed as threatened native wildlife, are unprotected in parts of Victoria and have a government bounty on their heads (the ‘wild dog’ bounty – $120), even though government data show that farm stock loss to dingo predation is miniscule in Victoria and has been for over 20 years.
  3. Hunters are permitted to kill so-called ‘wild dogs’ over vast areas of public land, even though government websites warn that protected dingoes and so-called ‘wild dogs’ are usually indistinguishable. Hunters are able to kill dingoes with immunity in areas where even government controllers are not permitted to operate.

A case study

A recent dingo hunting (‘harvesting’ in the words of one hunter) posting from Victoria on social media illustrates the inadequacy of current laws and the potential for abuse of current policy.

The post is from two men who were hunting for deer on May 1, 2022. Having found no deer, they happened across, shot and skinned a mature male dingo (to take advantage of the Victorian ‘wild dog’ bounty). Although the two hunters involved indicate a knowledge of the Victorian law pertaining to the killing of dingoes and claimed that the kill was on private land with the authority of the landholder, the instance highlights the shortcomings of current laws and the failure of compliance oversight by government.

The still images below are from the Youtube video posted by the hunters.

Key points:

  1. There is no doubt in the minds of dingo experts who have seen this video that this is a pure dingo, a threatened native species.
  2. The Minister for the Environment should instruct DELWP to thoroughly investigate the above killing to ensure that it was legally compliant.
  3. Although the hunters claim that the destruction of this dingo occurred on private property, where even pure dingoes are currently unprotected wildlife, there is no credible compliance surrounding such claims at the point of presenting the scalp for the $120 bounty. In this respect, the bounty requirements can be easily defrauded.
  4. With the use of the GPS capability of many mobile phones, photographic evidence which includes time and precise spatial coordinates could be made compulsory. However, this is not currently a requirement.
  5. The current bounty arrangements encourage anti-environmental attitudes; the activity is referred to by one hunter as wildlife ‘harvesting’ – a 19th Century attitude.
  6. The Victorian government’s stated reason for the unprotection of dingoes is to protect farm stock from predation. Yet, the government’s own data show that stock loss from ‘wild dog’ predation is miniscule and has been so for at least 20 years. There is no credible case, therefore, for the unprotection of dingoes, or for the bounty in Victoria.
  7. The decision for dingo unprotection, for the refusal to include dingo dominant hybrids as wildlife, and for a ‘wild dog’ bounty (which included pure dingoes in some areas) is purely ideological and panders to inherited anti-dingo prejudice, which still exists amongst the rural extreme right wing of politics. The government’s own website admits that dingoes and so-called ‘wild dogs’ are visually indistinguishable in the field.
  8. The current laws clearly subordinate the well-being of threatened species and ecological health to the demands of the hunting lobby.

Necessary reforms

If elected, I will stridently ensure the following reforms are in place:

  1. Immediately ensure that no listed threatened native species is subject to unprotection.
  2. Immediately cease the so-called ‘wild dog’ bounty. Make the imposition of bounties on the heads of threatened native species illegal in Victoria under the Victorian Wildlife Act (which is currently being reviewed).
  3. Grant wildlife status to ecologically functioning dingo dominant hybrids.
  4. As a minimum, the responsible ministers should ensure that verifiable evidence of the time and location of kill are a requirement for receipt of the ‘wild dog’ bounty.

To ensure the necessary reform to protect the threatened species the dingo, please vote Marilyn Nuske Independent Candidate Bendigo West NO 1.

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