Lifeless dingoes have been left hanging from a tree along a tourist road leading to a popular Queensland attraction.
Images of the native predators were taken by local grazier Angus Emmott on Monday and splashed across social media, causing outrage from animal lovers.
The photos were taken in Central Queensland, along the road to the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument.
Located 110km south-west of Winton, the museum attracts more than 15,000 visitors a year and houses the world's only known fossilised dinosaur stampede.
“Great look for Winton tourism,” Mr Emmott wrote sarcastically.
Others agreed, with many outraged at the disrespect shown to the animals after death.
“I am at a total loss. Glad we didn’t see that when we travelled that way,” wrote one person.
“I can't believe I am part of the same species that takes joy and pride in this,” said someone else.
Council removes dead dingoes from trees
Winton Shire Council, which offers bounties on dingo scalps, also supports poisoning, trapping and shooting programs.
They recently increased their dingo bounty from $30 to $100 a scalp in line with a proposal from Winton Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee.
Following questions from Yahoo News Australia, the Council's CEO Ricki Bruhn confirmed the dingoes had been taken down from the trees.
He said that while some visitors will take offence at the dead dingoes, tourism numbers for 2021 are "very good" and the issue causes "minimal impact".
"It is preferable for wild dogs (dead) to be hidden from tourists and controlled in accordance with animal welfare, firearms and poisons legislation and in a humane way," he said.
"Many tourists would be unaware of the devastation wild dogs cause to properties and livestock and Council are supportive of controlling these invasive animals – there is just no need to showcase the dead animals from trees."
DNA testing finds Central Queensland dingoes are pure
While council refers to the animals as “wild dogs”, this label contrasts with DNA testing by UNSW researcher Dr Kylie Cairns, who has found little evidence of hybridisation, concluding that regional Queensland is home to mostly pure-bred dingoes.
DNA from the animals found outside of Winton has been collected and sent to Dr Cairns to undergo testing, with results likely revealed next week.
“Dingoes are pretty much the only native animal treated in this manner,” Dr Cairns said.
“It is distressing to see dingoes treated like vermin and strung up from trees or fences, at least the death of these animals will contribute to ongoing research about dingoes."
US hunters would find strung up dingoes 'abhorrent'
Winton, the birthplace of Qantas airlines, is an international tourist hub and the region's national parks are popular with wildlife lovers.
Adjunct Professor Peter Valentine from James Cook University was travelling through the region in August and was left horrified after witnessing a similar scene - this time with dingoes strung up to a road-sign.
"This experience still stands out to me as one of the most shocking I've had in Australia," he said.
"To see such disrespect for wildlife is beyond belief, you'd think we'd be well past such barbaric activities.
"Whenever you're dealing with other sentient beings, you should at least have some sort of respect for them and this is simply disgusting that people would do that."
Adjunct Professor Valentine believes that Australians generally partake in shooting for financial reasons or the management of pest species, and wider society is yet to develop a "hunting culture".
Having lived in Montana, he has experienced the United States hunting culture firsthand, where wildlife is often managed as game.
"What impressed me was the extent to which they all respected the animal they were hunting," he said.
"This would be abhorrent to anyone in the US who is a genuine hunter, they would see this as being an unacceptable type of behaviour."
Tourist attraction says authorities are obliged to 'manage' dingoes
A spokesperson for the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument told Yahoo News Australia visitors are often curious about both the prehistoric and contemporary history of the region.
“If a dingo is spotted hanging from a tree along their trip, visitors are curious and ask museum tour guides about the practice,” they said.
The spokesperson said state and local government jointly manage the Lark Quarry Conservation Park where the museum sits.
They added that both the department and landholders have an obligation to manage dingoes in the area.
Farmer says slaughtering dingoes wrong approach
While many farmers classify dingoes as a “pest species”, Mr Emmott, the cattle farmer who took the photos, is opposed to their slaughter.
“I just would like, within Australia, for us to have a much, much more nuanced approach to how we look at dingoes and how we've managed them," he said.
Mr Emmott believes that outside of “sheep and goat country” healthy dingo populations are good for farmers, particularly beef producers.
“When one persecutes dingoes, they change the population from being a family of dingoes that protect their territory, to totally fragmented groups, because you’ve taken out the apex male and female,” he said.
“Then younger portions of these groups form into packs and they have no parental control so they go out on killing sprees.”
Mr Emmott said dingo family groups naturally keep kangaroo numbers low, allowing him to keep pasture cover on his property which results in healthier cattle.
Australia's "ingrained colonial mindset" is a key reason he believes dingo shooting continues, and signifies a lack of importance placed on the country's healthy ecosystems by many.
"For us to have a sustainable society, sustainable economy and sustainable agriculture, we've got to have fully functioning ecosystems," he said.
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