WOOL PULLED OVER THEIR EYES: TIME TO SCRAP VICTORIA’S FAILED DINGO BOUNTY
15th December 2017
With the review of the first year of Victoria’s dingo bounty due imminently, Humane Society International is urging the Andrews Labor Government to walk away from the ineffective and environmentally damaging program. In 2017 Victorians have been able to collect $120 for ‘wild dog’ scalps despite serious concerns for impacts on threatened dingoes. With no agricultural benefits demonstrated, the Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee overseeing the bounty cannot credibly advocate for its continuation while meeting their Terms of Reference requirement for an ‘evidence-based assessment’.
“Dingoes play a crucial role in the environment as apex predators, protecting other Victorian threatened species by helping to suppress introduced predators such as feral cats and foxes. Incentivising people to kill them through a bounty program open to high levels of fraud is not only detrimental to nature, but completely ineffective for stock protection,” said Evan Quartermain, Humane Society International’s Head of Programs.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that there are more than 13 million sheep and lambs in Victoria1. In 2016/17 the total number of livestock deaths or injuries attributed to ‘wild dogs’ was reportedly less than 1,000 – around 1 in every 13,000 animals. Agriculture Victoria claims that ‘wild dogs’ cost the state’s livestock industry $13-18 million each year2, a clearly excessive and largely unexplained figure that deceptively includes the cost of the bounty and dingo baiting programs.
“The only reason ‘wild dogs’ are supposedly costing Victoria so much money is that the Department is wasting so much trying to kill them! And to add insult to injury, these millions are spent with very little knowledge of outcomes. Presenting such inflated figures to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford and Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio when attempting to justify control programs seems intentionally misleading,” Mr Quartermain continued.
A growing body of research has shown that fracturing dingo packs through indiscriminate killing methods such as shooting and baiting may exacerbate livestock predation by encouraging opportunistic feeding patterns. With more effective stock protection alternatives such as guardian animals in use and ripe for investment, there is a severe lack of scientific justification to continue funding the bounty program.
“The fact is that Victorians can have no confidence around where the scalps they’re paying for have come from or what the outcomes have been. There is no credible justification for throwing more public money at this ill-thought-out program. If the Government is serious about protecting Victoria’s livestock industry, funding must be diverted from killing programs to investment in promising humane alternatives,” concluded Mr Quartermain.