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Trapping dingoes in the 1950s - what can we learn from our past?

New research by the University of Sydney is looking at what we can learn from more than 200 years of wild dog management.

Last year, PestSmart announced that dingoes and wild dogs cost Australia $89 million a year. This is despite a 200 year history of managing this threat to livestock. New research may help us to better understand how we can learn from our past.

In the early 1950s, a University of Sydney researcher, Professor N.G.W. Macintosh, distributed a nation-wide survey asking farmers what they knew about dingoes. The mission was to understand what the dingo was, and to find a solution to the dingo problem.

The survey was distributed in partnership with national, state, and local graziers’ associations. More than 140 farmers and doggers across Australia completed the survey, telling stories about their observations and interactions with dingoes, including the management they used.

Two litters of wild dingoes caught by dingo hunters, Gulguba, Queensland 1933

From trap guns triggered by a trip wire to chasing down dingoes on horseback, much has changed since the survey was conducted. Aerial baiting trials had just begun and major fencing projects were underway.

Sixty years later, Lily van Eeden, a researcher at the University of Sydney, is recreating aspects of the survey to understand what has changed and what we might learn from this historic study. Repeating the survey can tell us whether the dingo’s place in the landscape, and its threat to livestock, has changed and how different management came to be used in different places.

Any farmers or wild dog managers interested in contributing to this research can complete the new survey here.

Alternatively, you can contact Ms van Eeden to request to be mailed a copy (02 9351 7627, lily.vaneeden@sydney.edu.au).

Anyone who completes the survey can be sent a summary of the results of the original and new studies.

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