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Professor poo-poos ear tagging of Fraser Island dingoes

THE debate about ear tagging Fraser Island dingoes has continued with a Sydney professor saying the technique is the "most inappropriate means of individual identification of any carnivore".

Michael Bryden, a professor of Veterinary Anatomy and Veterinary Science at Sydney University, said with the ban on feeding Fraser Island dingoes, "predatory success" was even more important to the dogs' survival and that meant being able to hear was essential.

"Even in the absence of distortion of the tagged ear, a tag large enough to recognise an individual from a distance must interfere with the mobility of the ear, which is a vitally important component for pin-pointing prey," he said.

The debate about ear tagging arose again last week, with the Save the Fraser Island Dingo group highlighting the destruction of a dingo whose ear had drooped after it was tagged while it was a pup.

A statement from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service said the pup weighed more than 10kg and was therefore eligible to be tagged.

The dingo was one of a litter of eight.

Only four from the litter are still alive, with two killed by vehicles, one killed in a dingo fight and one destroyed by rangers.

The dingo was destroyed after it attacked a female tourist near Eurong in June.

The Save the Fraser Island Dingo group has argued there were extenuating circumstances involved in the attack, with allegations the dingo was being beaten with a stick by a man and that the woman had been attacked after running from the scene.

Tourists are advised not to run while in the presence of dingoes on the island.

Neil Cambourn, executive director for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, said he had no knowledge of a man with a stick.

He also defended the ear tagging techniques.

"The recent independent scientific review of the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy by Ecosure examined ear tagging methods and made recommendations that led to the actions adopted in the current strategy and is undertaken in accordance with guidelines approved by Animal Ethics."

Topics:  dingoes, ear tagging, fraser island, professor



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