THE QUEENSLAND Parks and Wildlife Service on K’gari (Fraser Island) has launched a new safety blitz on the World Heritage-listed island following a period of increased dingo and human interactions.
New dingo deterrent fences, ranger patrols and a community education push all form part of the strategy.
The period of increased aggression by the island’s dingoes culminated in an 8-year-old boy being bitten on the legs by two animals on February 4.
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Acting Regional Director Stephen Price said he was thankful the boy only received minor injuries, but warned it could easily have been worse.
“We have put together a comprehensive plan to actively manage the dingoes in the Wathumba campground area,” Mr Price said.
An infrastructure investment of around $60,000 to improve safety, including two fences around the Wathumba Creek camping area and the day use site, will be made.
“We will also be installing food safe lockers at Teebing camping area, as this is heavily utilised by boat campers,” Mr Price continued.
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The infrastructure upgrades will be complemented by extra patrols by QPWS rangers and extended campground closures.
“The Wathumba Creek campgrounds were closed in response to the attack, but we have decided to extend the closures until July 1,” Mr Price said.
“In addition, we have closed Wathumba and Platypus Bay roads and rangers will be conducting patrols in the area – including Bowal, Awinya Creek, Bowarrady Creek, Woralie Creek and Moon Point camping areas.”
Mr Price said the community also needed to step up to ensure their own safety around dingoes.
“We’ve seen some examples of really poor behaviour around dingoes recently – including people deliberately feeding and approaching them.”
“We need people to understand that feeding dingoes is not only extremely dangerous, but also detrimental to them,” he said.
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“As they become more and more reliant on visitors for food, the more they will approach people and become aggressive. In the long run this means that we may have to take difficult decisions to appropriately manage the risk posed by an aggressive dingo and that includes potentially euthanising the animal – something we definitely don’t want to have to do.”
He urged everyone visiting K’gari to be dingo safe at all times.
Meanwhile, the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation is hopeful a new information centre on K’gari will help visitors better understand and respect the island.
BAC chairperson Veronica Bird told reporters at the launch of the K’gari World Heritage Discovery Centre at Kingfisher Bay Resort last month that she hoped the facility would encourage better behaviour from visitors when it comes to interacting with dingoes and fire safety.
Ms Bird said it was important that people manage their actions around dingoes, opposed to authorities managing the animals.