News

Remote release dingo collars

QPSW Rangers, Renae Kerry and John Dargusch, check the strength of the VHF signal from a collar released from one of the Fraser Island dingoes.
QPSW Rangers, Renae Kerry and John Dargusch, check the strength of the VHF signal from a collar released from one of the Fraser Island dingoes. DERM

FRASER Island National Parks rangers are going to great lengths to retrieve some of the collars that have dropped off island dingoes.

The collars were fitted to 18 island dingoes eight months ago to collect data being analysed by researchers at the University of Queensland for important information on dingo behaviour, including population dynamics and their movement during breeding and non-breeding seasons.

Environment Minister Vicky Darling said rangers and volunteers were collecting the collars after they automatically released on pre-set dates.

The automatic release eliminated any need to recapture the dingo and minimised disturbance of the study group.

She said the collars were valuable and could be reused on Fraser Island or elsewhere.

"Once the collars stop processing GPS data, the searchers have to rely on a VHF radio signal and sight ... a tough task in rough terrain," she said.

"As the searchers look for the collars they also collect dingo scats for study relating to their food, and keep an eye out for tracks of feral cats."

"DERM used remote motion sensing cameras to confirm the collars had been shed," Ms Darling said.

The research program had all of the required ethics approvals and the collars didn't harm the animals or interfere with their normal behaviour.

Ranger in charge of Natural Resources Management on the island Linda Behrendorff said while they knew where the collars dropped off the difficult part was retrieving them.

Two rangers, John Dargusch and Renae Kerry, and a university volunteer have just returned from an expedition to a remote area inland and south of Sandy Cape to retrieve a collar from a male, sub-adult dingo.

Ms Kerry said: "As soon as we got over the first dune, we were confronted with about a kilometre of thick, gnarly coastal vegetation which was a tough to battle through."

There was some respite once they reached Booran sand blow, but then it was another slog along a ridge to where the VHF transmitter led them.

Mr Dargusch said they found the collar only 5m from where the GPS said it would be.

Ms Behrendorff said that dingo had been tracked from Dilli Village, where it had been fitted with the collar, to Sandy Cape, down to Moon Point and back to the cape.

She said they thought they'd find the young dingo in poor condition because it had been travelling between the territories of two dingo packs and they expected it would have been constantly chased and harried.

"It has been seen at Sandy Cape and photographed in magnificent condition," she said.

Ms Behrendorff said not all of the collars were hard to find.

One was retrieved only 40m from a road and one was found in a crab pot.

She said the crab pot owner returned the collar, which had been caught in the funnel of the pot.

"He told us there were dingo paw prints leading away from the pot, so we knew it had escaped."

The next batch of collars had been programmed to drop off at the end of March.

Topics:  animals, derm, fraser island, national parks




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