A Fraser Island Dingo

Dingo Dangers

Wild Australian dingoes do pose a risk, albeit small, to humans. A fully grown dingo is somewhat smaller than a German Shepherd dog.

Packs of dingoes can bring down and kill fully grown red kangaroos - these kangaroos are up to 6 feet tall, weigh 200 pounds and have a more powerful kick than any man.

In 2001 a nine-year-old boy was killed and partially eaten by dingoes on Queensland's Fraser Island. His seven-year-old brother escaped to get help but was also badly mauled.

People sometimes put themselves at risk with dingoes because they forget they are dealing with wild animals, not pet dogs.

Dingoes, like other wild members of the dog family have a strong urge to kill. In the same way that a fox in a chicken run will not stop killing until all the hens are dead, dingoes in a field of sheep have been known to kill dozens of animals.

As a result of the boy's death on Fraser Island and other incidents in which dingoes have attacked and bitten people, the Queensland government now offers tourists advice about how they should deal with dingoes.

First of all, children and young teenagers should never be alone in areas where dingoes can be encountered. If a dingo does approach you, you should stand up to your full height and face the animal. You should fold your arms and and maintain eye contact with the dingo. Back away from the dingo and call confidently and calmly for help. If there are two of you, you should stand back to back. You should not run from the dingo as this may arouse a chasing response and the dingo may then see you as prey.

Many people believe humans are to blame for problems with dingoes such as those encountered on Fraser Island. Tourists fed dingoes and the resulting familiarity seems to have bred contempt for people in the dingoes. The dingoes stopped teaching their pups to hunt and instead taught them to scavenge picnic and camping areas for food. The dingoes lost their natural timidity for people and began to beg for food - increasingly aggressively. It's now an offence to feed dingoes on Fraser Island and fines of up to $3,000 can be levied on anyone breaking this law.

Living In Australia 2005. All rights reserved.