Are dingoes "fauna" or not?
Last week the Western Australia government proposed a section 9(2) order to the new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the effect of this order would be to change the status of the dingo from "fauna" to "non-fauna".
The reasoning for this change seems to be a single controversial publication by Jackson et al. (2017) which presents the opinion that dingoes should be taxonomically defined as Canis familiaris rather than Canis dingo. This opinion is not shared by the wider scientific community and currently there is a publication in press that presents evidence supporting the classification of dingoes as Canis dingo and affirming that dingoes are a unique and distinct species of canid. In essence, a wealth of scientific data tells us that dingoes are NOT dogs.
The other reason given seems to be a misplaced concern over hybridisation. This is misplaced for two reasons. First, WA has one of the most genetically intact ("pure") populations of dingoes, particularly in rural regions. Second, it ignores the ecological value of "hybrids". Dingoes and dingo "hybrids" perform key ecological functions conferring stability and resilience to ecosystems. It is not a coincidence that the ecosystems with the least disturbed dingo populations (ie not lethally controlled) seem to have retained their biodiversity whilst those that are highly disturbed have experienced species extinctions and over all loss of biodiversity.
Australian state and federal governments should be building legislation that protects and conserves dingoes rather than eradicating this quintessentially Australian canid.
This week a group of 24 scientists, experts in the fields of top predator ecology, biology, cultural value and genetics endorsed a submission to the WA Environment Minister and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
If you agree that dingoes are fauna and deserve protection in WA - and in other states - then consider sending a letter or submission to the WA Environment Minister (Minister.Dawson@dpc.wa.gov.au), Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (email@example.com) and the Federal Environment Minister (Melissa.Price.MP@aph.gov.au). You might also be able to sign an online petition.