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Farmer anguish over Grampians dingoes idea

Outspoken Victorian Liberal Bev McArthur believes farmer anxiety is growing about the potential reintroduction of dingoes into Grampians National Park.

Mrs McArthur, a Western Victorian upper-house representative, said a dingo attack on a toddler on Queensland’s Fraser Island last month had reignited concerns about the issue.

She said a decision on the proposal, part of a draft Grampians Management Plan, was in the hands of Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

“The draft plan gave farmers no reason to feel comfortable about the safety of their livestock, or indeed people for that matter,” Mrs McArthur said.

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“There are two predominant incomes in the Grampians – farming and tourism – and this one proposal manages to threaten both of them.

“Even just the fear of attack from introduced dingoes could undermine the Grampians tourism industry despite the ongoing investment in tourism infrastructure.

“Why spend $30-million on the Grampians Peaks Trail, and allow camping in the park, if you overlay it with the threat of dingo attacks on visitors?” 

Dingoes have been in Australia for thousands of years and are an integral part of the history and culture of many Aboriginal peoples. 

They are apex predators as well as having cultural significance and an important role in various Australian eco-systems.  

The park draft speculates a role they might be able to play in suppressing foxes and feral-cat populations. 

Mrs McArthur said as well as the Grampians draft, there were submissions pursuing dingo re-introduction across the state as part of an Environment Planning Committee Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline in Victoria.

“The Australian Dingo Foundation, ADF, argues that ‘dingo extermination is also counter-productive for farmers’ because unchecked numbers of animals such as kangaroos compete for grazing land with livestock,” she said.

“However, the ADF also admits that the ‘majority of sheep producers, 93 percent, are located in areas where dingoes have long been removed from the landscape’.

“And yet the Gariwerd proposal is exactly about putting dingoes right back into Australia’s sheep-production heartland. It is bizarre and reckless in the extreme.

“Electric fencing, drone drops of dingo-
repelling pheromones and Maremma dogs won’t be enough to save the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-worth of livestock that can be cruelly killed in one night by a wild dog or dingo. 

“They leave a carcass-carnage behind and mental anguish for farmers dealing with the devastation, which can spread across kilometres of farmland in one hit.”

Mrs McArthur said she believed native animals would also be threatened by dingoes, despite the argument that dingoes would largely hunt feral animals. 

“At what cost would dingoes be re-introduced? And who is going to compensate when it all goes wrong?,” she said.

The entire May 5, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!