A popular campsite in Queensland has been closed as a “proactive measure” after a family’s brush with a pack of dingoes, but an expert insists the “beautiful animals” are unlikely to attack humans.
The Department of Environment and Science says it was forced to shut down the Waddy Point beachfront area on K’gari (Fraser Island) following an incident involving an adult and two children.
“They were swimming in a lagoon near Waddy Point and they were circled by dingoes,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. “They felt that the dingoes were going to attack them.”
After other people “intervened” the dingoes “fled”.
Government warns of ‘heightened dingo activity’
Rangers from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service say a pack of dingoes, also known as wongari, had frequently been spotted between Waddy Headland and Orchid Beach before several of them approached the family on February 22.
“Dingoes, especially where they have been habituated, can do that,” the government spokesperson said. “Normally they won’t but if they’ve been fed or they’re used to getting food from people, then that’s what they can do. And that’s why we’ve closed that camping area.”
The decision to shut down the unfenced Waddy Point Beachfront camping area until March 22 is in line with the state’s Dingo Conservation and Risk Management Strategy. The Department of Environment and Science hopes it will reduce the potential for further “negative interactions” and minimise risks of “increased habituation”.
In the meantime rangers will continue to closely monitor the situation and conduct patrols before an assessment before the end of the month.
Expert claims dingos aren’t the problem, ‘we are’
While dingoes are considered a “top order predator” on the island, Dr Edward Narayan, a senior lecturer in animal science at the University of Queensland, says the “beautiful animals” are more “exploratory” and “wouldn’t show aggression towards humans unnecessarily”.
“It’s something I hear in the media all the time, that people say they’re a problem and they’re dangerous, but I think it’s us, we are the problem unfortunately,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“Dingoes hang around in packs and have their own family and they’re not like your everyday domesticated dogs. Any interactions with humans would basically be something that’s being initiated through years of tourism.”
He suggests that visitors who’ve left food behind or those who’ve attempted to hand feed dingoes may have caused them to change their behaviour.
“I think we need to be a bit more aware and educated about our wilderness because Australia is a wild place with a lot of wild animals,” he said.
“Better education is needed for the people who visit these places like being aware of what they’re taking with them, not throwing food around and not interacting with wildlife. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery.”
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