Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Media releases on dingo conservation

Aerial baiting in Kosciuszko is an ecological disaster:  so reintroduce pure bred dingoes instead

10 November 2005

“Spreading death to predators from the air in Kosciuszko National Park is a reckless action that will place endangered dingo and quoll populations at risk”, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Instead of killing wild dogs, the National Parks and Wildlife should be reintroducing endangered pure-bred dingoes as a top level predator into Kosciuszko National Park in ecologically significant numbers,” Mr Muir said.

“While here in NSW we kill off dingoes by aerial baiting in Kosciuszko National Park, wolves and cougars are being reintroduced into the national parks in the United States. American park managers appreciate that top-level predators regulate ecosystems and loss of large carnivores is associated with extinction events. Yet in NSW the dingo remains the only endangered mammal targeted for eradication under state law”, he said.

He said that “All appeals to Environment Minister Bob Debus for scientific research into the role that dingoes play in the ecology of endangered marsupials have been rejected. There is no question that poison baits kill dingoes. Wiping out dingoes and knocking back quolls by aerial baiting only releases fox and cat populations that can quickly bounce back from baiting in very large numbers that then kill off the smaller endangered species and other wildlife. This is called “mesopredator release” and is one of several well known ecological responses to the loss of top carnivores. If you want to cause local extinctions in national parks then I believe that aerial baiting may be the best way to go about it.”

“And there is more to protecting endangered Tiger Quolls than seeing if quolls die immediately from poison baits as examined by recent experiments. Poisoning quolls will affect their health and probably their capacity to breed. National Parks and Wildlife is not saying that baits are good for quolls, its a question of whether baits kill them or just make these endangered animals really sick instead. It stands to reason that a serious poisoning event damages the health of any creature, so why damage the health of quolls”, asks Mr Muir.

“If Americans can tolerate living with and even admire brown bears, big cats and wolves, Australian farmers should learn to get along with dingoes before they become extinct”, Mr Muir said.

Environment Minister introduces Quoll and Dingo extinction program

Tuesday 24 Aug 2004

The decision announced this morning by the Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, to reintroduce aerial baiting in the northern end of Koscisuzko National Park will help make the Tiger Quoll and Dingo become extinct.

"We need carefully thought through wild dog management that protects Dingoes and Tiger Quolls; not this knee jerk extinction program," said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

"Throwing meat baits laced with 1080 poison out of helicopters kills Dingoes and threatened Tiger Quolls, as well as wild dogs. Aerial baiting will also increase the dominance of wild dog-fox-cat regime that is destroying our wildlife", said Mr Muir.

"The baiting program is in direct contradiction to the park's Draft Plan of Management currently on exhibition. The Draft Plan requires National Parks and Wildlife to replace the current wild dog-fox-cat regime with populations of dingoes and quolls," he said.

"Two reasons for the low populations of Quolls in northern Kosciuszko are the recent fires and past pest control efforts that have killed them off. If you want to make Dingoes and Quolls become extinct in the region, then the Minister’s aerial baiting program would be exactly the way to go about it", Mr Muir said.

"When numbers of an endangered species are unusually low in a national park surely it is more appropriate to implement an urgent recovery plan than to serve up poison baits to the few population remnants left", he said.

"Aerial baiting is an expensive one-off control and the results of aerial baiting are not measurable. Pest controllers never know how many baits were taken and whether they were taken by wild dogs," Mr Muir said.

"Just to the north the Wild Dog Control Programs in Brindabella and Wee Jasper Valleys are using on-ground line baiting strategies to avoid poisoning Tiger Quolls. While this is encouraging, the approach offers little hope for the plight of the Dingo. If Minister Debus does not encourage the development of on-park Dingo management strategies that preserve the core of Kosciuszko, our biggest national park, as part of their domain then the Dingo is done for", he said.

Colong calls for Dingo protection before its too late!
Friday 20 September, 2002

The dingo is becoming extinct. Yet it remains the only endangered species listed as a pest requiring eradication. The last one was the Thylacine. In a last ditch effort to save the dog, the Colong Foundation has nominated the dingo for protection under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

“There is no effective protection for the dingo probably because farmers hate it. Current Government attempts in NSW to protect the dingo under pest control laws are completely misguided and doomed to failure”, said Mr Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Sheep farmers should understand that the extinction of the dingo will herald a much bigger dog problem. Dangerous, large feral dogs, that breed twice a year, are steadily replacing dingoes in core habitat areas. The reality is that dingoes in national parks and state forest present farmers with half the problem as it breeds only once a year. Farmers won’t eradicate all the dogs, so its a choice between dogs or dingoes in national park areas”, Mr Muir explained.

Mr Muir warned that “The state-wide 1080 poison war on dogs being undertaken across all of Queensland’s national parks and state forests will deliver farmers a bigger problem and could destroy more wildlife than it protects.”

“While the dingo will never be the farmers friend, the dingo is easier to live with and its about time the current broad-acre ‘poison the planet’ strategy is acknowledged as counter productive,” said Mr Muir.

“Land managers should stop persecuting the dingo. Evidence by Professor Pettigrew in the 1990s, and others since, have suggested that when the dingo is eliminated, foxes and cats proliferate and subsequently wipe out the smaller marsupials like the bilbys, dunnarts, potoroos and rock wallabies,” he said.

“A precautionary approach to dingo management is essential. Park and forest managers need to recover populations of dingoes before we lose what may prove to be an invaluable and inexpensive ally in the struggle to save endangered species,” he said.

“It will be sad day if we do nothing and then, years later, scientists discover that the dingo was a guardian of the natural environment. We may then realise, all too late, that the funds spent on broad area wild dog eradication should have been spent on targeted pest control, tailored to benefit endangered animals, including the dingo”, Mr Muir said.

If the Dingoes goes, will the rest follow?
Conservation group calls for an independent inquiry
Wednesday 11 September, 2002

“The Dingo, loathed by sheep farmers, may turn out to be a guardian of the natural environment;” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Professor John Pettigrew has reported that when the dingos were shot out at Davenport Downs in central Queensland foxes and cats multiplied and were exterminating the bilbys. Dr Andrew Smith has also suggested that the dingo may assist in maintaining viable populations of medium size endangered native fauna which are most threatened by feral cats and fox predation.”, said Mr Muir.

“The Colong Foundation for Wilderness is convinced sufficient evidence exists to justify further protection and research into dingo populations on public lands. The Government’s current dingo conservation efforts are misdirected, relying on measures established under pest control legislation. These wild dog control strategies risk accelerating the extinction the dingo, the one animal that may help us to protect our threatened wildlife,” Mr Muir warned.

“Last year, the NSW environment movement called on the Minister for Agriculture, John Aquilina, to conduct an independent inquiry into dingo management, particularly in protected areas and state forests. He did not respond to that request, despite a reminder letter”, Mr Muir said.

“A thorough scientific study is needed because the dingo is becoming extinct and being replaced by cats and foxes,” he said.

“Integrated pest control strategies should protect our endangered wildlife. The role of top predators like the dingo must be thoroughly understood to ensure that our pest control efforts do not inadvertently cause extinctions,” said Mr Muir.

“A precautionary approach to dingo management is essential. Park and forest management needs to recover populations of dingoes before we lose what may be an invaluable and inexpensive ally in the struggle to save endangered species,” he said.

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness has convened a seminar to advance the case for dingo conservation on September 21 at the Australian Museum.

The Dingo: Friend or Foe?
A seminar to advance Dingo conservation
Friday 6 September 2002

“To raise awareness of the dingo’s rapid decline toward extinction and to examine options for its future protection, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness has convened a seminar”, said Keith Muir Foundation’s director.

Mr Muir said that “The Dingo Seminar, to be held in Sydney at the Australian Museum on September 21st, will provide an ample opportunity for informed debate. No doubt some participants view the dingo as a friend and some as a foe. Society should, however, ensure the dingo’s survival regardless of these attitudes. Peter Thompson will chair two discussion sessions and the options for dingo conservation in NSW will be explored. The Colong Foundation invites all interested to join the debate on how best to save the dingo”.

“The seminar will discuss new methods of wild dog control and dingo management that offer hope for the endangered dingo, as well as protection for farms adjoining national parks and state forests. This will require moving beyond current Dingo conservation measures that have been established under pest control laws. Current dingo conservation measures are very unlikely to receive adequate resources because they lack a sound legal foundation,” said Mr Muir.

“The dingo in the wild is endangered due to interbreeding with other dogs. But there is still time to save the dingo with effective management of the remnant wild dingo populations in the larger state forests and national parks”, he said.

“Effective conservation of the remnant dingo populations can minimise interbreeding between dingoes and feral dogs in the larger state forest and national park management,” Mr Muir said.

“Wild dog control techniques using aerial poison baits can be particularly problematic for dingo conservation because of the large numbers of baits are deployed and the baiting of remote areas can not be effectively monitored. Indiscriminant aerial baiting risks eliminating viable dingo populations,” he said.

“A registration form for the Foundation’s dingo seminar can be downloaded from the home page of our website”, said Mr Muir.

Government’s Plan to save the dingo using pest destruction laws can’t work says wilderness group
Wednesday 4 Septmeber 2002

“The Government’s plan to conserve the dingo by developing management plans under a Pest Control Order has got to be the strangest form of conservation in the history of wildlife management”, said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Two years ago the Minister for Agriculture, Richard Amery, issued a Pest Control Order that requires public land managers to prepare a wild dog management plan. The plan is supposed to conserve dingoes in national parks and state forests while destroying wild dogs to the extent necessary to minimise attacks on livestock. The irony is that the Pest Control Order defines the dingo as a wild dog and so it also must be “fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed” as well as conserved,” Mr Muir said.

“The pest control law has no power to require the preparation of dingo conservation plans and in any case such plans could not override the requirement placed on public land managers to control wild dogs,” said Mr Muir.

“The bottom line is that dingo conservation in national parks and state forests is just an afterthought because the dingo is becoming extinct,” he said.

Mr Muir said that “Wild dog management plans have been prepared in an honest attempt to control wild dogs and conserve dingoes, but these plans have no legal force. Dingo conservation simply is not a recognised by the law.”

“To ensure that dingoes can be legally protected within national parks and state forests, the Colong Foundation has recently nominated key dingo populations for protection under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1998. These dingo populations should be conserved through the development of recovery plans under endangered species protection laws before it is too late,” said Mr Muir.

Mr Muir believes that “The conservation of endangered dingo populations will require effective management strategies that prevent feral dogs moving into core dingo habitat areas and facilitate the recovery of existing dingo populations on public lands. At the moment very little effort is directed toward conserving dingoes other than research.”

“The Foundation’s proposal to protect dingo populations in state forests and national parks can be downloaded from the home page of our website", said Mr Muir.