QPWS to trial camera collars on wongari

QPWS state studies have shown that the collars do not affect the "strong and highly-resilient" species.

By Rose Astley

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) have announced they will use new “high-tech” camera collars to monitor the behaviour of wongari (dingoes) near the Orchid Beach township on K’gari (Fraser Island).

Acting Regional Director Stephen Price said the use of the camera collars is another new initiative for the management of high-risk wongari on the island.

“To reduce the potential for further negative interactions, rangers have fitted camera collars on two wongari residing in or around the Orchid Beach residential area,” Mr Price said.

“The camera collars are light weight and will be worn by the wongari for up to three months, releasing via a timed drop off mechanism.

“The camera collars are also GPS-enabled and will better inform our knowledge of their movements and interactions.

“Rangers will be able to track the wongari and download images to see where the animal has been and how it is behaving within its natural environment and around people.”

Mr Price said several wongari have been loitering around Orchid Beach, and it is obvious from their condition and their lack of fear of people that they had become habituated through being fed.

“Feeding and attracting wongari can have serious consequences – as we saw with the attack on a child at Orchid Beach recently – and can result in euthanasia of the animals,” Mr Price said.

“We believe a wongari from the Orchid Beach pack is responsible for the attack, but exactly which one could not be identified with any certainty.”

Mr Price said tracking collars have been used world-wide to track and assist in managing animal/human interactions and are approved by an independent Animal Ethics Committee.

“We have used tracking collars on K’gari regularly since 2011 to learn more about the movements of the wongari and to continue to develop better management programs,” he said.

“Experienced rangers on the island will closely monitor the condition of the wongari wearing collars, but previous studies have shown the collars have not disadvantaged or restricted them, as they are a strong and highly resilient species.

“Anyone who sees a wongari wearing a collar is urged to exercise caution and give them their distance, as they may be prone to demonstrating dominant behaviour.”

Residents or visitors who take images or video of wongari wearing a collar can send them to dingo.ranger@des.qld.gov.au to assist in monitoring.

QPWS say they remain committed to working closely with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation in the management of K’gari’s iconic wongari and its World Heritage renowned natural and cultural values.