Time to reinstate the dingo unprotection order in northwest Victoria

Last week the Australasian Mammal Taxonomy Consortium (AMTC) confirmed a large and growing body of research demonstrating that the dingo is not considered a sub-species of wolf (Canis lupus dingo), but is instead an ancient breed of dog (Canis familiaris), bringing into question the basis for the Victorian Government’s recent decision to end the dingo unprotection order in northwest Victoria.

The AMTC statement was signed by 20 of the nation’s most respected taxonomists and evolutionary biologists, from universities and museums across the country, and describes the rationale and scientific justification explaining why the dingo cannot be considered anything but an ancient breed of dog.

Geoff Power, Chair of the National Wild Dog Action Plan Coordination Committee (NWDAP Committee), said the statement confirms what has been known for a long time now, that dingoes are an ancient breed of dog that does not meet the eligibility criteria for a threatened species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998

“The recent statement from the AMTC affirms the 2019 findings from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which also considered the evidence and determined the dingo to be a breed of dog, considered common and abundant across its range,” said Mr Power.

As a result of their 2019 review, the IUCN completely removed the dingo from the Red List of Threatened Species because it is not eligible for conservation consideration; the dingo’s status is not of conservation concern.

Greg Mifsud, the National Wild Dog Management Coordinator, said the updated taxonomy acknowledges the dingo as an ancient breed of dog, and this confirmation should impact on the Victorian Government’s current review into the state’s wild dog control program, particularly the dingo unprotection order.

“The Victorian Government’s unexplained reluctance to accept the internationally and nationally recognised species designation and their continued reliance on a decades-old and incorrect state-based listing under the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, baffles people and organisations negatively impacted by recent changes in control measures in northwest Victoria,” said Mr Mifsud.

“Any further reduction in current resources for the Victorian Wild Dog Program would see a dramatic increase in impacts on livestock producers from dingo attacks,” said Mr Mifsud.

The existing Victorian Wild Dog Program already conserves dingoes on millions of hectares of public land while limiting the devastating impacts these dogs can have on Victorian livestock producers, by controlling them in a 3km livestock protection buffer at the interface with a relatively small amount of private property.

The NWDAP Committee hopes to work with the Victorian Government to ensure management of dingoes and wild dogs continues to achieve a balance between conserving dingoes and protecting Victoria’s biodiversity and $4.5 billion sheep and wool industry.

Since 2008, the dingo has been considered a threatened species in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998 becausethe Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee, responsible for assessing threatened species listings, considered dingoes to be a sub-species of wolf based on the Museums Victoria understanding of their taxonomy at the time.

For more information on Australia’s approach to wild dog control, visit the National Wild Dog Action Plan website here.