Call for Gorge dingo reserve

AFTER the bounty on the heads of wild dogs doubled to $100, a nature reserve has been mooted to protect the “purebred dingoes” anectodally sighted in the Cambanoora Gorge near Killarney.

For Robert Durand, who owns a property in the Gorge on Condamine River Rd, he is “all for a reserve” to protect the dingoes.

“Research they have done shows if you have a healthy population of dingoes – with the alpha males and the rest – they prefer to eat the natural tucker and aren't an issue for cattle,” Mr Durand said.

“Because we have such a healthy population (in the Gorge) we don't have foxes, rabbits or feral cats.”

Mr Durand said Queensland was falling behind by having just one dingo reserve, being Fraser Island.

“Most other states have more as they recognise dingoes are important as a top-order predator,” he said.

“Wild dogs, however, are bad – the only way to deal with them is through dog registration laws and the controlling of domestic dogs.”

Mr Durand often sees “four or five” stray domestic dogs wandering his street in town almost every day and believes that is the bigger problem.

“The dogs at the top of the Gorge are very pure and need protecting,” he said.

Susan Savage owns a rainforest retreat at Mt Colliery overlooking the Gorge and says a dingo reserve would be “a really great idea”.

“People who live in the Cambanoora Gorge have no sheep or anything that could be hurt by dingoes, which help keep down the foxes and the cats,” Ms Savage said.

“The ones out in the bush tend to have little packs and it's not like wild dogs attacking sheep out west – I believe the worst predators out in the Gorge are the cats and the stray town dogs.”

Ms Savage often heard dingoes howling and said the increased bounty – which council introduced in February – only encouraged unnecessary culling.

“I think there's too many people moving through and shooting through the Gorge which makes a lot of noise – I feel very nervous when I hear shooting in the Gorge,” she said.

“I think (a dingo reserve) would be wonderful – the natural wildlife like quolls and birds are fairly adapted to them so they aren't likely to be bitten from the dingoes, they're more likely to be attacked by the cats and foxes.

“The closer you get to town the more likelihood there is that they mix with dogs and then become a more dangerous dog.”

Councillor and The Hermitage producer Ross Bartley said a dingo reserve was “an interesting concept to say the least”.

“In reality we have been told by experts there are no purebred dingoes on the mainland of Australia, so you have to ask the question: Would it be a wild dog reserve?” Cr Bartley said.

“And if it is, how does that fly in the face of our biosecurity legislation?

“I think they would have to trap some of the so-called dingoes up there and it be proven genetically they are purebred dingoes but as I said we have been told by the experts there are none.”

Cr Bartley said there were a number of producers around the Cambanoora Gorge who participated in council's 1080 baiting program for wild dogs who would dispute the notion cattle were safe from dingoes or wild dogs.

“Certainly people would testify when times get really tough they turn on the young cattle – farmers can tell where on the calves they've been bitten whether it's from a wild dog or not,” he said.

“Also I am not sure how you can keep them constrained within a certain area, given the topography of the area up there – the idea of a dingo reserve is an interesting one.”

AgForce figures shows wild dogs cost the Queensland grazing industry $67 million in 2008/09, with cattle producers copping the biggest hit with almost $42m including attacks and diseases, with almost $23m for calf livestock losses.

AgForce president Brent Finlay said those interested in protecting dingoes first needed proof they were “purebred”.

“The only way you can do that is to DNA-test them – if they're not dingoes then they're just a wild dog and a Class 2 pest,” Mr Finlay said.

“It's no good protecting wild dogs.”

Mr Finlay said even if there were purebred dingoes up at Cambanoora Gorge, they wouldn't be purebred for long.

“The biggest threat to dingoes is the wild dogs as if they mix together their progeny will be wild,” he said.

“Therefore the dingoes need to be behind a secure enclosure and you have to have a permit from local government to do that.”

He reinforced the impact wild dogs were having on the Southern Downs grazing industry.

“Wild dogs have a significant impact on biodiversity and the livestock industries – we have a massive problem with the wild dog population,” Mr Finlay said.

“We're not in favour of protecting them at all – it is up to landholders to control wild dogs on their property and those who don't should be prosecuted.”

What do you think about a dingo reserve? Call 4660 1318 or email edit@warwickdailynews.com.au



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