STAY SAFE: Fraser Island rangers delivering dingo-safe messaging to campers.
STAY SAFE: Fraser Island rangers delivering dingo-safe messaging to campers. Contributed

Conservationist fears for children's safety on Fraser Island

THE most recent dingo attack on a child on Fraser Island scares longtime conservationist Mike West the most.

A 14-month-old boy was dragged from his parents' camper trailer while they were camping near Eurong.

They heard his desperate cries and came to his aid, rescuing him before the incident took a fatal turn.

But the boy was left with bites to his head and neck, as well as a fractured skull.

Mr West said other incidents had the hallmarks of playful or aggressive behaviour from the dingoes.

Since the fatal attack on Clinton Gage, 9, in 2001, it has become clear how dangerous such attacks can be.

But Mr West feared the attack on the toddler meant the dingoes had become so habituated they now considered children potential prey.

The act of pulling the child from the camper trailer was similar in which tourists reported dingoes stealing sandwiches from backpacks or fish from eskys.

"Misbehaving is a part of a growing up in a pack," Mr West said.

"Occasionally the dingoes nip people, maybe playfully, maybe not.

"Because of the size of their teeth, even a nip can cause horrendous damage.

"But none of those events have ever been to eat a human.

"It's never been in their intentions until now.

"It's the most frightening thing I've ever heard, that was a turning point.

"It wasn't playful, not like any of the stuff that's happened before.

"They were going to eat him. I don't know how the boy survived. I can't comprehend how there hasn't been a major outcry."

Mr West fears that dingoes have become too habituated - too used to the many people they see in their territory - and it could lead to fatal consequences.

Already he feels the children involved in the incidents earlier this year were lucky to escape without greater harm.

He has long been an advocate for desexing habituated dingoes so they don't breed pups that will be doomed to repeat the cycle - to become used to humans and be open to the constant risk of interactions that will lead to an attack and their destruction.

The State Government is completing a review of the Fraser Island Dingo Conservation and Risk Management Strategy Implementation Plan.

Already fines for anyone caught disturbing or feeding dingoes have been substantially increased in an effort to prevent more interactions between the animals and people on the island.

Cheryl Bryant from Save the Fraser Island Dingoes said education could always be improved.

"That's something they are looking at now," she said.

While a strong advocate for the dingoes, she too fears the possibility of further attacks.

Ms Bryant said she feared an attack that would result in someone's death.

She believes the focus of the review will be on coming up with ideas to protect animals and people.

"The focus is on stopping incidents from happening in the first place," she said.

"That could mean more ranger presence during peak periods.

"With more people there are more chances of incidents happening.

"There's always the possibility of another death, we're always concerned, especially during the holiday period.

"It's always going to be a possibility, no matter what they do.

"It's never going to be a perfect situation when you have thousands of people going to the island."



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