A dingo at the Durong Dingo Sanctuary.
A dingo at the Durong Dingo Sanctuary. Tobi Loftus

Apex predators important for ecosystem

DINGOS play an important role and need protecting, a leading dingo export has said.

Dr Kylie Cairns from the University of New South Wales said dingos, mainland Australia's only on-land apex predator, are often classed as wild dogs by farmers and councils.

"It's to farmers' benefit to keep healthy dingos as dingos keep kangaroo populations down, as well as feral pigs and other feral animals and predators like foxes and cats, which do horrific damage to local environments,” Dr Cairns said.

"Dingos do play a really important ecological role that balances out the impact they have on livestock agriculture. Sometimes perhaps agricultural farmers need to think about ways of managing dingos and interacting with dingos in a more positive manner.”

She said while the numbers of dingos in the region was unknown, the reporting of wild dogs, which could include dingos, runaway pet dogs, hybrids and more were rising around the country.

Simon Stretton at the Durong Dingo Sanctuary.
Simon Stretton at the Durong Dingo Sanctuary. Tobi Loftus

Dr Cairns said 1080 bait had a negative effect on the dingo population.

"That sort of baiting will drop down dingo populations in an area, which destabilises the social structures dingo packs have,” she said.

"A lot of new dingos will come into the area then, breed younger and generally have larger litter sizes. You'll generally see a larger population after baiting, rather than a decrease.”

She said these younger dingos were not taught to hunt properly and would go after easier prey such as livestock.