Protect At-Risk Dingo Populations

Target: Dr Gordon de Brouwer, Secretary of the Department of the Environment of Australia

Goal: Protect the remaining Australian dingo population

A recent article published by an international group of scientists has shown that predators have a crucial role in stabilizing ecosystems. These scientists warn that the excessive hunting of predators has created an environmental threat greater than climate change.

The research, published in the academic journal Science, shows that where major predators like grey wolves, pumas, and lions are absent, some species’ populations grow excessively and others shrink dangerously. Any particular ecosystem is a balancing act of predators, prey and vegetation. When the predators disappear, the prey’s numbers begin to balloon. The prey species, like deer, will then strain the existing resources of the ecosystem and ultimately decrease the health of their population by overfeeding.

In the case of Australia’s at-risk dingo population, the effects of their absence are remarkable. In areas where dingoes were in decline, fox and kangaroo species were rising. As a result, the dusky hopping mouse, other small mammal populations, and grasses are in decline.

If left unchecked, the lack of dingoes could lead to the extinction of small mammals and overgrazing or desertification. As a result, the global carbon sink would take a hit from the loss of grasses, and carbon would be released into the atmosphere. Finally, the foxes and kangaroos themselves would begin to die out from lack of sustenance.

Sign this petition to tell Australia’s Environment Secretary to institute efforts to avoid killing dingoes and to explore further protections for the carnivores.


Dear Dr. Gordon de Brouwer,

A recent article in the journal Science shows that a declining dingo population is harming Australia’s ecosystem. As more and more dingoes are killed for sport or out of necessity, the populations of foxes and kangaroos are rising, resulting in an expanding ecological imbalance. As fox and kangaroo numbers increase and feed, small field mammals and natural grasses become at risk of being wiped out. This could mean extinction of many species and desertification of many parts of Australia.

This threat can be combated by protecting the remaining dingo population. I urge you to use your department’s resources to institute better coexistence with the carnivore species. Encourage use of guard dogs instead of shotguns and explore better ways to protect the dingo species from further decline.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Henry Whitehead via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. they have rights too to thrive and survive

  2. Helene Beck says:

    I wrote to Australia regarding this matter, and I received a detailed and lengthy reply from the Environmental Biosecurity Section, Department of the Environment:
    “Dear Helene,
    Thank you for your email via our website. It is pleasing to know that you and others are reading and thinking about issues to do with dingoes and their role in Australian ecosystems. There have been quite a number of articles in scientific journals over the last year discussing the various issues related to dingoes and wild dogs. I will try to briefly explain some of the issues and the Australian Government’s position in relation to them.

    Dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) have been in Australia for more than 4,000 years and are considered by many (including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) as native animals. Wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) have been present since the first European settlement of Australia and have spread through a large portion of the country. Dingoes and wild dogs interbred with the greatest degree of hybridisation in the south-east of the country and around human settlements.

    Wild dogs and dingoes pose a threat to agriculture in some parts of the country through predation on livestock, especially sheep. Where packs of wild dogs are creating problems, especially when they are ‘surplus killing’, control programs are appropriate. I think this is what you are referring to with the killing for necessity. Wild dogs and dingoes are not a target for sport hunting, unlike many other feral animals (e.g. rabbits, pigs, goats and deer).

    The exact role of dingoes, and also wild dogs, as a top order predator in the ecosystem is of great debate at the moment. The Department of the Environment acknowledges this role and the need to preserve the dingo in appropriate areas. I suggest you have a read of some of the other papers by Allen, Flemming, Ballard and Letnic (a few references below) to get the details of the debate. In short, there is debate about the extent to which dingoes/wild dogs suppress other introduce predators – foxes and feral cats – and whether this can assist in the recovery of native mammal populations. The problem is complex and will require more research to understand properly what is happening. I am sure that there will be variation across the different ecosystems too.

    There are a variety of resources offered to land managers to assist in living with or controlling wild dogs and dingoes. This does include non-lethal options such as guardian dogs as you have pointed out. There are also different regulations by the state and territory governments that allows or prohibits the control of dingoes in different areas to achieve a balance of protection for agriculture and preserving the ecosystems.

    I hope this is of use. Below are a few references that may be of interest (not an exhaustive list of this topic!).

    Fleming PJS, Allen BL, Ballard G (2012). Seven considerations about dingoes as biodiversity engineers: the socioecological niches of dogs in Australia. Australian Mammalogy 34: 119–131
    Letnic M, Ritchie E and Dickman C (2011). Top predators as biodiversity regulators: the dingo Canis lupus dingo as a case study. Biological Reviews (2012) 87: 390-413.
    Allen BL, Fleming PJS, Allen LR, Engeman RM, Ballard G and Leung LKP (2013) As clear as mud: A critical review of evidence for the ecological roles of Australian dingoes. Biological Conservation 159: 158-174.
    Ballard G, Fleming PJS (2012) Trophic responses to letha control of placental predators in Australia: Proceedings of an Expert Workshop. Sydney 19 October 2012. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Canberra ACT.


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