The Australian Dingo is believed to have existed on this landscape for at least 5000 years and was brought by seafarers to this country. It is believed to be the most ancient and interesting living link between the wolf and the domestic dog. It is a wild canid, with all the accompanying traits for survival in the wilderness. Dingoes are protected in the National Parks of Australia, however under state laws they are considered a pest animal except for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
The populations of dingoes have diminished very significantly in this country since European settlement (1788 onwards) and the poisoning, trapping shooting, habitat loss, hybridisation, diseases, and diminished food chain has continued to this day. This has caused severe disruption to dingo populations resulting in dispersal of dingo packs and severely diminished populations to extinction in the Eastern states. Dingoes do not habituate in capital cities or their surrounds, on the eastern seaboard the only place to see dingoes are on Fraser Island or in the zoos.
In remote areas such as National Parks and State Forests runners can encounter wild dogs (domestic dogs gone wild and possibly crossed with dingoes - hybrids - producing very large animals which can be dangerous). Like all wild animals dingoes/wild dogs are stimulated by flight. The predator/prey instinct is triggered and they will give chase. Dingoes are a territorial animals and most encounters of aggression are caused by encroachment on that area especially in the breeding season (March to June). Dingoes are more active and reactive during this period as mating occurrs and the overwhelming need to mate increases the likelihood of an aggressive encounter.
What to do when encountering a dingo
If a person is running in a known dingo/wild dog habitat alertness and observation should be paramount. The animals will very likely follow the runners tracks and often the animals will use manmade tracks in their territory as part of their scenting pattern and for hunting forays.
On encountering a dingo/wild dog stop running straightaway, stand perfectly still with your eyes downcast, do not eyeball the animal at all. If possible wait for the animal to leave the area. If the animal comes up to sniff just ignore it and stand perfectly still. However if the animal does persist in your vicinity, make a sudden loud noise, and continue to do it until the animals runs away.
Our recommendation is that you run on well known safe tracks. Dingoes instinctively avoid areas of activity, as they are naturally cautious but at the same time can be inquisitive of new scents and activity.
Run The Planet thanks The Australian Dingo Conservation Association (www.dingoconservation.org) and its president Barry Oakman for providing us with this safety article on dingoes. The Australian Dingo Conservation Association is a non-profit organisation formed to protect the Australian Dingo and to lobby Governments, amend legislation, remove the dingo from the noxious list in all States and Territories and to promote scientific research on the dingo to maintain a pure gene pool of dingoes.