Authorities in Queensland are investigating after they became aware of photos showing a man holding a dingo puppy on Fraser Island.
"We received information that a person had allegedly interacted with a wongari pup by catching and holding it," Queensland Environment said, using the indigenous name for a wild dingo.
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) received information that a Sunshine Coast person caught the pup and was photographed holding the animal.
A department spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the dingo pup is showing signs of distress in the photos. Aside from being unlawful, it is particularly "risky to do that" if the pup's mother or father are around, they said.
Parks Queensland has an exhaustive list of rules for visitors to Fraser Island when it comes to dingoes, including that people should "never try to attract dingoes to come close".
Doing so can result in serious penalties.
"People are reminded it is unlawful to deliberately interact with wongari on K’gari [Fraser Island]. This includes enticing them for selfies or close-up photographs," Queensland Environment said.
The minimum penalty for deliberately feeding or interfering with a dingo at the popular tourist spot is an immediate $2,205 fine, while the maximum penalty is $11,028.
The fines were dramatically increased in January last year as authorities tried to tackle the problem of tourists feeding the animals, forcing rangers to take a strict "zero-tolerance" approach.
According to the department, strict rules are necessary to keep people safe and to ensure the natural behaviour of the animals is not disturbed.
Interacting with the animals and feeding them, deliberate or inadvertently, can cause them to become habituated.
"Habituated wongari may approach people for food, placing people and wongari in danger."
Before the crackdown, certain dingoes were becoming expectant of being fed and would turn aggressive towards tourists who do the right thing and refrained from feeding them, a spokesperson explained to Yahoo News.
After authorities urged the public for help on social media, many were critical of the man's act.
"Absolute tools. It is time to review the law because 11k doesn't sound enough for this sort of stupidity," one Facebook user commented.
"People are idiots," another said, while many suggested visitors should know better.
"As cute as they are you should never touch or go near them," one person commented.
"No respect for the island and its fauna. Should never be allowed back and fined," a woman argued.
The investigation is ongoing and fines are expected to be issued.
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