In the struggle to protect local communities, livestock and native wildlife from wild dogs, it’s up to the human race to take the upper hand, according to the latest scientific findings.
Research published this year by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has made it clear that humans, not dingoes or wild dogs, are the apex or top-order predator in most Australian environments.
NSW DPI vertebrate pest research leader Peter Fleming said strategic wild-dog management programs offered the best outcomes for rural communities and wildlife.
‘It has been suggested that the reintroduction of dingoes could help manage foxes and cats but our studies indicate that dingoes could have a negative impact on the survival of some endangered native species,’ Dr Fleming said.
‘Our risk assessment shows that up to 94 per cent of the native species in western NSW could be at risk of dingo predation, regardless of any effect dingoes might have on foxes and cats.
‘Dingoes prey on the same threatened species as the cats and foxes – they also pose a real threat to livestock industries and the communities they support.’
Dr Fleming said changes to the landscape, ecosystem and climate mean that dingoes can’t easily be slotted back into the mix as biodiversity engineers.
‘We are looking at wild-dog management plans that offer effective and flexible solutions to reduce the impact of wild dogs on animal production while improving biodiversity and environmental outcomes,’ he said.
‘Given the right situations the conservation of purebred dingoes can be incorporated into wild-dog management plans.’
NSW DPI Vertebrate Pest Research Unit (VPRU) researchers Ben Allen, Guy Ballard and Peter Fleming this year published two papers that examined the role of dingoes as biodiversity engineers and explored their impact on native species.
As part of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, the NSW DPI VPRU is conducting wild-dog research and training projects across NSW, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the ACT.