Dingoes take blame for dogs

CONCERNS about dingoes spotted south of the Dog Fence continue after several sightings throughout South Australia, including on the West Coast.

However a Ceduna local said the dingoes should not take all the blame for loss of sheep in the region.

Sue Haseldine is a local farmer who has monitored activity near the dingo fence and said in many cases it was the work of wild dogs.

She said while dingoes would have been involved in some of the sightings and attacks on sheep, wild dogs were more of a threat.

“I feel dingoes are getting stigmatized, farmers aren’t taking wild dogs seriously and they’re a bigger threat due to being pack animals,” she said.

“Dingoes are loners by nature, with a pack wild dogs can attack anything and anybody.”

Ms Haseldine said a picture from a sensor camera placed at a rock hole north of the Dog Fence showed animals that could be easily mistaken for dingoes, but the black dog in the pack showed they were hybrids.

She said breeding patterns of wild dogs were also a matter of concern.

“To one dingo there’s around 10 wild dogs, as they can have a litter of eight to 10 pups,” she said.

“Dingoes also breed once per year, after mating the male leaves and the female raises the pups, but once they’re old enough they leave too.”

Biosecurity SA does not differentiate between dingoes and wild dogs in their control measures; under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, ‘dingo’ can also refer to dingo crosses or hybrids.

Interbreeding between dingoes and domestic dogs has been reported since European settlement, with DNA evidence showing hybridization is prevalent in the eastern highlands and less so in northern South Australia.

Local natural resource management officers have confirmed increased incidents inside the dog fence on the West Coast are mostly dingoes.

A Biosecurity SA spokesperson said evidence against dingoes or wild dogs was not as clear cut as people think.

“There is no evidence that hybrid ‘wild dogs’ are any more a threat to livestock than pure dingoes, as they were a threat to livestock from earliest settlement,” the spokesperson said.

“Adding to the confusion is that attacks on domestic livestock are sometimes caused by owned domestic dogs allowed to roam.”

The spokesperson said there were not many differences in appearance and behaviour between pure breeds and hybrids.

“Dingoes aren’t solitary animals, while they are often seen singly or in pairs they are essentially part of a group that regularly come together to defend territories, hunt and rear pups,” he said.

“In appearance hybrids are more likely to have brindle or white spotting in their coats, but often appear identical to pure dingoes.”

The spokesperson said while domestic dogs could breed twice a year compared to once for pure breed dingoes, there was no evidence of hybrids being able to breed twice in the wild due to nutritional demands in raising two litters.

Ms Haseldine said improvements should be made on the Dog Fence and in controlling the wild dog population.

“A six-foot high dog fence was good because nothing could get through, while today dogs and dingoes have been able to crawl under the fence or can jump over,” she said.

“I want to keep dingoes out there because I’m a farmer too, but if they want to keep them out there they should also work on getting rid of the wild dog population.”

Biosecurity SA has asked for any land managers who suspect dingoes or wild dogs on their property to consult their local natural resources office for advice and assistance on how to control them.

TAKING THE BLAME: There are concerns in the community dingoes are not all to blame for the loss of sheep in the district.

TAKING THE BLAME: There are concerns in the community dingoes are not all to blame for the loss of sheep in the district.