Careful using that f-word to describe dingoes, study warns | 2/13/2019 | Staff
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A UNSW Sydney study says more evidence is needed before declaring the dingo a feral animal, casting a shadow over state governments' justification for culling Australia's largest carnivorous mammal.

There is no conclusive evidence that the Australian dingo was once domesticated, UNSW scientists reveal, challenging the notion that the animal is therefore feral.

Study - Today - UNSW - Sydney - Researchers

In a study published today by UNSW Sydney researchers, Professor Bill Ballard and Dr. Laura Wilson suggest more research is needed that incorporates ancient DNA and whole genome data before such a conclusion can be made. The pair also examine evidence supporting the idea that the dingo was tamed, rather than domesticated.

The question of whether the dingo was ever domesticated is an important one because by definition, a feral animal is one that has returned to the wild following domestication. It overarches an ongoing, politically charged debate between governments, pastoralists, miners, scientists and conservationists throughout Australia.

Year - Western - Australian - Government - Reforms

This year the Western Australian government was planning reforms to the Biodiversity Conservation Act that would not only continue to define the dingo as a wild dog that is not native to Australia, but also remove the classification of the animal as part of Australia's fauna. It reportedly backed away from declaring it as non-fauna in November last year.

But despite the backdown on this point, dingoes, which are thought to have lived on mainland Australia for at least 3500 years, can still be trapped and killed in Western Australia, with some pastoralists and mining companies favouring culls to protect people and livestock.

Attempt - Heat - Debate - Framework - Discussion

In an attempt to take the heat out of the debate and reintroduce a scholarly framework for discussion, the authors reviewed past research to test whether there were indicators of dingoes being domesticated versus evidence the canids* were merely tamed.

They invoke Darwin's writings in 1868 to make the distinction between domestication – defined...
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