STATEMENT: Dingoes deserve better

Published by Alex Vince on

dingo

STATEMENT: Dingoes deserve better

A recent post (below) we shared on our social media platform containing a graphic photo of an anonymous child posing with a dead dingo has attracted a catalogue of reactions – from anger, shock, outrage, applause, praise, approval and many more in between. Some comments stated that this post led to them unfollowing our page.

Facebook post
The controversial post published on our Facebook page.

We are deeply saddened and disappointed by this. We strive to provide the public with information that they otherwise may not have access to. This is not helped by active misinformation campaigns led by Government authorities or advocacy groups tied to industries with a vested interest in continuing killing with chemicals. 

We were told sharing the photo and claiming that “dingoes deserve better” was “a great way to lose members”.  In fact, our followers have increased since this apparently controversial post. Yet, we were admonished that we should immediately delete “emotive crap like this” if we wanted to “stay relevant and be taken seriously”. Of course, we intend to do so until the moment 1080 poison is outlawed across Australia.

But why did we share a photo of a dingo who had been shot dead?

We believe it is our responsibility to be as clear and transparent as possible. The following statement provides our supporters (and detractors) with evidenced responses to the top 3 concerns raised.

1. We believe in the spirit and intent of our work.

Few species of Australian wildlife have as ambiguous an identity as dingoes” 

Karen Hytten.

tiger-dingo
A dead dingo in 2013 (left) and a Tasmanian tiger in 1869 (right).

Elsewhere in the world, experts have led sophisticated, nuanced and scientifically-proven challenges against lethal carnivore control programs. For example, official European Union documents unequivocally explain that “lethal actions are [often] chosen instead of more efficient coexistence tools”. Often, these culminate in unexpected, harmful or detrimental outcomes

What’s more, these are often found to violate national and international environmental protection frameworks, ultimately compromising long-term conservation efforts. Some have proven that lethal control often fails to achieve its stated objectives and that such techniques can be counterproductive. Others have argued that many of the methods currently used are applied without consideration of their efficacy or appropriateness. Studies have also shown that exaggerated accounts of damage allegedly caused by carnivores is commonplace. 

Ecologists have convincingly argued that “a shrinking supply of wilderness”, coupled with a “growing recognition that top predators can have a profound influence on ecosystems”, means that the long-term survival of carnivores and apex predators in an increasingly engineered landscape is “one of the greatest conservation challenges of our time”. Responses to this challenge vary.

We believe in and promote the adoption of compassionate conservation, co-adaptation and coexistence strategies. Compassionate conservation is based on three simple but important principles:

(1) do no harm, 
(2) all individuals matter and 
(3) strive for peaceful coexistence.

Your claim: “[Remove] emotive crap like this if you want to stay relevant and taken seriously”.

Our response: We believe that the plight of the dingo is inextricably tied to a distinctly violent Australian mentality that takes various lethal forms of “control”. This includes poison baiting with 1080. If sharing publicly available images of the outcomes that such a mentality produces is unacceptably “emotive”, we suggest those who believe so reconsider the reasons for this. We believe that if we were to do so, collectively, we would reveal a vast swathe of lies and misinformation which all work against the dingo.

For more on compassionate conservation and ethical wildlife management, see Bekoff (2017), Börk (2018), Project Coyote (2019) and Riley (2019). For more on predator-friendly practices, see Wallach et al. (2015) and much more in our Resources section.

2. We believe that the words we use matter.

If thoughts can corrupt language, language can corrupt thought

George Orwell.

The words we choose to use are important. Terms like “wild dog” are not only misleading and dishonest, they are strategic. The phrase “wild dog” is a carefully selected and calculated attempt to guide environmental agendasOur latest report states: “misinformation [about ‘wild dogs’] has been crafted and carried out for one of two reasons: (1) to provide justification for ongoing lethal control programs or (2) to create and foster the necessary social conditions to confer these programs with the social acceptance they require in order to continue”. We stand by this statement.

Your claim: “[The majority of dogs] killed are just feral x breed mongrel dogs”.

Our response: Despite being an oft-repeated claim, evidence exists which proves its opposite. Researchers from the University of New South Wales have shown that, while hybridisation is a conservation concern, only 0.6% of free-living canids in their study were classified as containing zero dingo ancestry. A total of 783  animal samples were sourced from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) control operations between 1996 and 2012. The majority were ostensibly killed to minimise “the impact of canid predation on neighbouring livestock operators”. Further, the study found that some regions were found to be “largely free” of hybridisation with domestic dogs. Ultimately, the researchers advised that “legislators and land managers may need to consider less restrictive species definitions to conserve endangered or ecologically significant taxa”, such as the dingo. Thus, there is strong evidence to suggest that claims such as these are misleading and misinformed.

For more on deceptive language see Pereyra (2016). For more on dingo ancestry, see Cairns et al. (2018), Cairns et al. (2019) and our latest report.

3. You are being lied to.

Wildlife experts are realising that reacting to human-wildlife interactions with lethal control is counterproductive and ineffective. Accordingly, local communities are seeking ways to coexist with, rather than kill, wildlife

Wild Earth Guardians.

Dingoes fulfil an essential ecological service: they are key biodiversity regulators whose presence in an ecosystem controls the populations of other, often introduced, predators. Because introduced species have been regarded as a driver of local and global extinction events, often “extreme measures” have been adopted in attempts to control or eradicate them. In the process, dingoes have been categorised as “wild dogs” and – therefore – as introduced. This is in spite of widely accepted evidence of their presence across vast swathes of the mainland for thousands of years

Today, conservationists are concerned that ongoing control operations could spell the end of the dingo.  Destroying or disrupting the populations of apex predators can have unexpected and important consequences. If we intend to halt the decline of biodiversity seen across the continent, we must extend legislated protection to the dingo. 

Our position: 1080 poison is a leading cause of dingo deaths across Australia. Experts consider it difficult to locate any free-living populations who have not endured 1080 baiting programs. Due to the invaluable ecological services dingoes offer, coupled with the patently inhumane nature of 1080 poison, we believe that all lethal control programs targeting them must be urgently halted.

Five easy ways you can help save Australia's dingoes

You can help save Australia’s dingoes in five easy steps.

1. Join the Coalition today.

2. Follow us on Facebook.

3. Share our petitions, reports and resources.

4. Sign our petition demanding an urgent review of 1080 by clicking the link below now.

5. Help fund the fight or chip in any amount you can to receive BAN1080 bumper stickers directly in your letterbox.

sticker
A BAN1080 sticker spotted in the wild. Get yours today by clicking the photo and donating ANY AMOUNT you can to fund the fight.

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