Dangerous interactions the start of habituation on K’gari

Issued: 21 Jul 2023

The woman was fined for deliberately interacting with wongari.

The woman was fined for deliberately interacting with wongari.

Two women have been issued with fines for interacting with wongari (dingoes) on K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island) following tip-offs from members of the public.

A 29-year-old New South Wales woman and a 25-year-old Queensland woman each received a $2,300 Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) following an investigation by the Department of Environment and Science (DES).

Compliance Manager Mike Devery said both women were reported to the department after posting images and video on social media.

“Both women have made an extremely dangerous decision to interact with wongari and that’s why they have been fined,” Mr Devery said.

“The Queensland woman could have been bitten by the wongari, which was clearly exhibiting dominance-testing behaviour.

“It is not playful behaviour. Wongari are wild animals and need to be treated as such, and the woman is lucky the situation did not escalate.

“The New South Wales woman has recklessly chosen to approach very closely to three sleeping wongari pups, and she was lucky the mother of the pups wasn’t nearby.

“Wongari are known for defending their packs and their pups, and it is unbelievable that people would endanger their wellbeing like this.

“Deliberately interacting with wongari is irresponsible, and rangers from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) will not tolerate it.

“Our number one priority is to keep people on K’gari safe and conserve the population of wongari, and those who blatantly ignore the rules for social media attention can expect a fine or a court appearance.”

One interaction can be the start of habituation

Senior Ranger Linda Behrendorff said most of K’gari is bushland, giving the wongari plenty of territory to live, hunt and raise their pups.

“Unfortunately, wongari that venture near the public areas can become quickly habituated,” Ms Behrendorff said.

“And one interaction can be the start of wongari becoming habituated, because they lose their natural wariness of people.

“Residents and visitors to the island cannot treat wongari as cute, hungry or something to play with, because the wongari will start to approach people for food, and that can put wongari and people at risk.

“QPWS rangers on K’gari spend a lot of time delivering Be Dingo-safe! messaging to visitors and campers, and it is unfortunate that many people chose to ignore that advice.

“People have to remember that they can cause serious issues for other visitors if they feed or interact with wongari anywhere on the island.

“And that’s why we make no apology for issuing fines to people who break the rules, because those people are putting lives at risk.

QPWS would like to thank everyone who informs on people who post inappropriate videos and photos on social media, and those who provide information about people who deliberately feed wongari.”

People are encouraged to be dingo-safe and report any concerning dingo encounters by calling 07 4127 9150 or emailing dingo.ranger@des.qld.gov.au