Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Managing dingoes on Fraser Island: culling, conflict, and an alternative

Adam J. O’Neill A E , Kylie M. Cairns B , Gisela Kaplan C and Ernest Healy D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Dingo for Biodiversity Project, PO Box 156, Mount Perry, Qld 4671, Australia.

B Ramaciotti Centre for Genome Analysis, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, S&T, McClymont Building, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.

D Centre for Population and Urban Research, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Clayton, Vic. 3168, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: adam.oneill@bigpond.com

Pacific Conservation Biology 23(1) 4-14 https://doi.org/10.1071/PC16026
Submitted: 22 June 2016  Accepted: 25 September 2016   Published: 12 December 2016

Abstract

Globally, the role of large predators is increasingly understood as essential for the restoration and maintenance of ecosystems. Consequently, predator conservation represents a paradigm shift in ecological thinking, yet the management of predators sets conflicting goals because of ongoing conflict with humans. This is exemplified on Fraser Island where dingoes come into conflict with tourists, and dingoes perceived to be dangerous are regularly culled. It is argued here that this new conservation paradigm premised on protecting predators in conjunction with conventional wildlife management can result in predator populations being held in a perpetual state of social disorder, exacerbating rather than alleviating conflict. We consider the intensity and frequency of lethal control and how this may impact upon predator social structures, healthy ecological function, stable breeding patterns and stable territoriality. The direct effects of management-induced psychological stress for the survivors of episodic culls are discussed, as well as the indirect flow-on effects of social dysfunction. A final consideration is the cyclical nature of lethal control, whereby conflict with humans results in culling which, in turn, gives rise to further social disruption and conflict. In part, our assessment is derived from official data collected in the course of the management of dingoes on Fraser Island. On this basis, and on the basis of the international literature available, we offer new insights, which may inform predator management more broadly.

Additional keywords: Canis dingo, dingo behaviour, human–wildlife conflict, lethal control, predator, social stability


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