Dingoes have existed in harmony with Aboriginal communities for thousands of years. They’re part of our dreaming stories; they’re totems, and protectors of our people.
But now, after a string of attacks on humans, and concern from the farming community, they’re also at risk of becoming endangered.
So is the dingo dangerous, or just misunderstood? Joshua Said, who owns the Dingo Den Animal Rescue in Sydney’s outer-west, says it’s the latter.
“A lot of people think that dingoes are really aggressive animals. That’s probably the most common misconception, where in fact the opposite is true,” Mr Said told The Point.
“They’re very timid animals. Most of your top-order predators are like that, they can be very skittish around people.
“In a domestic setting, once dingoes get used to you they can be pretty friendly. They can be very loving and affectionate.”
Concern from the farming community about dingoes attacking livestock has led to bounties being creating across several states.
These bounties mean that farmers or hunters are rewarded by the Government up to $200 per pelt, and has had a detrimental effect on their conservation status.
Mark Pearson of the NSW Animal Justice Party told The Point that studies suggest leaving dingoes to their own devices can be beneficial to farmers.
“If this animal is reintroduced as an Apex predator, it will then actually assist agriculture,” Mr Pearson said.
"At the beginning, there was an issue with dingoes attacking sheep, but this was at the same time the agribusiness was killing wallabies, kangaroos and a lot of wildlife.”
He explained that when the dingo’s food supply was depleted in the past, they then turned to agriculture to sustain them, creating problems for farmers.
Yuin Elder Uncle Max Harrison is a fierce protector of the dingo. He believes Australia should be doing more to protect one of our totems.
“Fancy looking to trap these guys and shoot them. Just have a look at those cute faces, you know. Where’s the heart to do that?” Uncle Max said.
“Where’s the heart to put a bullet in that? It’s just not right. We need them protected. We need this protection and there needs to be legislation.”
Now that the dingo is widely hunted, Mr Pearson says farmers have problems with introduced animals, such as dogs, foxes, and cats and something needs to be done.
“If you want to solve that problem in a balanced way without using hideous poisons, and traps and things like that, reintroduce the Apex predator. It will naturally resolve the problem.”
Mr Pearson compares Australia’s situation to Yellowstone National Park in the United States, saying when the wolf was killed, serious overbreeding of prey animals occurred. Yellowstone solved the problem by reintroducing the wolf into the park.
“They decided to take the risk, which is what I’m asking this Parliament and this Government to do – take the risk. Let’s at least do some more trial studies and actually see what the impact is,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Said believes that the reintroduction of the dingo could help to stimulate the reproduction of other native animals in some areas.
“Where we remove dingoes, all our other animals disappear. So in places where we’ve reintroduced dingoes, species that we thought were extinct like the burrowing bettong, they self-populate,” he said.
“They come back because the dingoes are back and everything goes back. Not just the animals but the plants as well. Just the way the whole ecosystem works.”
Mr Pearson said he was currently trying to get the ball rolling on creating a new bill to reintroduce dingoes as Apex predators in New South Wales.
“Where there is a perceived conflict between the agriculture business and the animal, let's see how that's possible to work together to actually bring a better outcome for agribusiness, looking after those sheep and cattle from cats and foxes,” he said.