Scientific report analyses Fraser Island dingoes

FRASER Island's dingo population is healthy and has a wide variety of food on offer in the animal kingdom, a recent study has found.

Published by University of Southern Queensland professor Benjamin Allen and led by Linda Behrendorff, the research was conducted between 2001 and 2015.

It found about 100 to 200 dingoes lived on the island, representing about 19 packs. Ms Behrendorff and her team conducted the research with the goal of discovering how a plan to replace dingoes' natural prey with human-sourced food would affect the species.

After the study of more than 2000 dingo scats as well as stomach samples and photographs, Ms Behrendorff found the dingoes ate everything from tiny insects to dead whales that had washed ashore.

The most common food found in the dingoes' poo was bandicoots followed by fish. Ms Behrendorff noted the health of the dingoes, which is often the cause of local debate.

"From 455 weight records (the largest known sample of dingo weights ever reported), Fraser Island dingoes over 12 months of age weigh in at 16.6 kg on average, compared with mainland dingoes' typical weight of only 15.7kg," she wrote.

"And when it comes to body condition scores (ranging from one for skinny dingoes to five for grossly obese animals), nearly 75% of dingoes scored four or five.

"Only 5.6% had a score of 2.5 or less."

In the research, Ms Behrendorff also found traces of plastic, fish hooks and shoes in the animals' scat. Ms Behrendorff said if dingoes focused more on eating natural food sources and less on human-provided food, "we may see fewer negative dingo-human interactions or attacks in the future".



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