Removing the dingo fence… Good idea?

Many native australian critters suffer enormous predation pressure from introduced mammalian predators such as the cat and red fox. A recent paper released in ‘Restoration Ecology’ argues that the reintroduction of the pseudo native dingo could help relieve some of this pressure as it preys upon these mid-sized mammals. The paper argues that the removal of the famous dingo fence, running from Eastern Queensland to the South Australian coast could have a stabilizing or reductive effect on predation of Australia’s native fauna. They also theorize that the dingos would reduce grazer numbers helping to stop overgrazing and the resulting erosion.

Farmers are not to keen on this idea for obvious reasons and lobby groups will provide strong opposition. Also, the scientific literature looking at similar scenarios overseas is mixed with the majority ┬ásiding with the conclusions of this paper but still a not insignificant number of credible research papers disagreeing. But as Australia’s mammalian extinction rate is high with an approximate loss of 1 in 10 species over the past two centuries something needs to be done.

Wisely, to allay immediate crucifixion by the farming lobbies the research team proposes an on-ground study in a small area to inform the debate. Their proposition is to remove Sturt National Park from the protection of the dingo fence, an area not commonly used by farmers for grazing, and analyze the results on the local fauna assemblages. Although not cheap (estimated at one million AUD per year) the study is only 1/10th the cost of annual maintenance to the dingo fence.

I strongly hope the research project gets the go ahead as the potential benefits to Australian ecosystems is immense if the trial proves successful. To achieve the green light Australians (particularly locals to the study area) need to give their support. This study can benefit both sides of the debate as it will give clear indications either way, either supporting or refuting the proposal, and help to find resolution.

Please do your bit and contact your state and federal politicians and pledge your support for the trial.