Update – Further rangers have been deployed to K’gari (Fraser Island) in time for school holidays after multiple concerning incidents involving dingoes in recent months.
Earlier this week the Queensland Government announced a dingo was put to sleep last weekend after months of displaying high-risk behaviour.
The dingo was the third in nearly as many months and follows multiple attacks and worrying incidents on the island recently.
Just a couple of days after the dingo was put to sleep, authorities say a 58-year-old Queensland man was filmed by a member of the public “enticing and attempting to hand-feed” a dingo.
The incident is said to have taken place on 7 September; however, last Friday the man was tracked down and issued a $2476 Penalty Infringement Notice.
Manager Compliance Optimisation Mike Devery said the man knew he was breaking the rules, and rangers were thankful that a member of the public had recorded the incident and provided it to rangers.
“This man has made a dangerous decision to feed and interact with wongari, and his actions could cause legacy issues on the island,” Mr Devery said.
“It can take one incident like this to set wongari on the path to habituation, and now these wongari have been fed, they might associate people with food.
“Rangers will have to monitor these wongari closely to ensure they retain their natural wariness of people, and don’t start approaching people or lingering around camping areas.
“One wongari that is becoming habituated can influence their pack – this man has fed two of them and we make no apology for handing out fines to people for their irresponsible behaviour.
“Our number one priority is to keep people on K’gari safe and conserve the population of wongari and this man has potentially put lives at risk.”
Mr Devery said rangers could not believe someone would choose to deliberately feed wongari after recent incidents received a lot of publicity.
“Sadly, we have euthanised three habituated wongari in 2023, including one at the weekend because people ignored the rules,” he said.
“QPWS rangers are extremely frustrated by this man, because each day we deliver Be Dingo-safe! messaging to visitors and campers.
“And that includes never deliberately feeding wongari and never interacting with them, which this man has completely ignored.
“Residents and visitors to the island must not behave in a way that puts themselves, other people or wongari at risk.
“Most residents and visitors to the island do not accept this type of behaviour, and rangers receive a lot of information from members of the public about inappropriate behaviour around wongari.”
Ranger in Charge Dr Linda Behrendorff said school holidays on K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island) are always a busy time for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers and Butchulla rangers.
“Our number one priority is the safety of residents and visitors to the island, and we want people to enjoy this World Heritage area without having a negative incident with a wongari,” Dr Behrendorff said.
There’s been a number of highly-publicised incidents involving dingoes on K’gari in recent months.
The woman was herded into the water by the pack before being helped by witnesses.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Sciences (DES) says last weekend’s euthanasia follows multiple incidents.
“The most recent serious incident involved biting a woman who was standing alone on the beach on 26 August,” the department said in a statement.
“The dingo has demonstrated increasingly significant high-risk behaviours since it was tagged in January 2023.
“Including stealing food, persistently approaching people, stalking, circling, lunging, nipping and biting.”
DES worked with QPWS to implement alternative options in an attempt to manage the dingo’s behaviours.
Those attempts weren’t successful so rangers made the tough decision to capture and euthanise the animal.
“This included collaring the dingo in July 2023 to enable rangers to better monitor its behaviour and movements, and in August 2023 rangers closed camping areas in the dingoes preferred range to minimise the risks of increased habitation.”
Rangers urge people to avoid preparing or consuming food, and sun-baking, in an attempt to avoid further negative interactions.
“The dingo continued its pattern of negative interactions towards people with a series of threatening and high-risk interactions recorded involving children, adults, and rangers, including six high-risk interactions.
Many of these high-risk interactions were with a second tagged dingo.
Rangers say they will continue to closely monitor the second dingo before making any further management decisions.
“Euthanising a high-risk dingo is a last resort, but this decision is in line with the Fraser Island Dingo Conservation and Risk Management Strategy, and part of QPWS’s commitment to ensure the safety of everyone who visits or lives on the island.”
Earlier this year, the Queensland Government urged residents and tourists on K’gari to understand the importance of the rules surrounding dingo interactions.
That plea came after a rise in dingo attacks, with officials saying too many people are still putting themselves in dangerous and illegal positions.
By the end of July 20 people had been issued a personal infringement notice (PIN) this year by QPWS for not adhering to the rules
There was a total of 22 people fined for the entire 2022, and rangers are concerned about the number of people continuing to break the rules.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) urges people on K’gari to know the rules and the risks involved.
“Feeding wongari (dingoes) can cause them to become habituated and approach people for food,” said a DES spokesperson.
“The rules are in place to keep the people and the animals safe.”
The maximum penalty that a court can impose for deliberately feeding a dingo is $12,384.
Visitors and residents on K’gari should report negative dingo encounters to a QPWS ranger as soon as possible.
Safety tips to prevent dingo attacks
Do not approach or encourage interaction with dingoes.
Do not feed dingoes under any circumstances as it encourages them to associate people with food.
Camp in fenced areas where possible and always sleep or rest within arm’s reach of children.
Dispose of rubbish in provided dingo-resistant bins and secure food stores and bait safely.
Walk in groups and stay close (within arm’s reach) of children and young teenagers.
Do not run or jog as it can trigger a negative dingo interaction.
If threatened by a dingo, stand still, fold your arms across chest, face the dingo, then calmly back away.
If you’re in danger, call for help.
Stay safe and respect the wildlife on K’gari Island. Remember, they’re wild animals and their behaviour can be unpredictable.