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People-dingo interactions

Let them be wild

It is irresponsible and reckless to interact or interfere with a dingo. It endangers your life and that of the dingo. Watch dingoes from a safe distance. Never approach a dingo. It is also an offence and penalties apply. Photo: Queensland Government

It is irresponsible and reckless to interact or interfere with a dingo. It endangers your life and that of the dingo. Watch dingoes from a safe distance. Never approach a dingo. It is also an offence and penalties apply. Photo: Queensland Government

It is an offence to feed a dingo, attract it using food or food waste, or disturb it anywhere on Fraser Island, whether on public or private land. Penalties apply.

Dingo sightings on Fraser Island can be rare, depending on the season. They are wild animals and unpredictable. Fraser Island dingoes have rarely interbred with domestic or feral dogs and, in time, may become one of the purest strains of wild dingo on the eastern Australian seaboard, possibly Australia-wide.

Dingoes search for prey and other food within well-defined home territories, across the island. Fraser Island's dingoes are healthy, and are naturally lean and fit. Pack leaders, or alpha males/females, appear healthier and well fed. Subordinate and scapegoat pack dogs are generally more lean than the dominant animals.

When you're in dingo territory

Dingoes sometimes approach campsites or houses to scavenge food and even personal belongings that have the scent of food on them. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes sometimes approach campsites or houses to scavenge food and even personal belongings that have the scent of food on them. Photo: Queensland Government

People and dingoes share high-use recreational sites including beaches and lake shores and this increased contact with people has turned many dingoes into a public nuisance. Some dingoes have become so high-risk that they have to be euthanised. This is done as a last resort, after thorough identification processes, and is carried out humanely by trained and authorised rangers only.

Attracting and feeding dingoes make the animals less fearful of people and dependent on hand-outs. Hunting skills decline and they may become aggressive towards people who don't feed them.

Dingoes have a keen sense of smell and are attracted by activity and food smells. Sometimes they are simply curious.

When camping, living or working on Fraser Island you must store your food, rubbish and belongings securely. Making your camp site or house yard boring and unattractive to dingoes, means they may pass through and leave you and your belongings alone.

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What happens when people feed dingoes?

Let them grow up wild. Do not feed them. Fed dingoes become aggressive and may attack people particularly children. Photo: Queensland Government

Let them grow up wild. Do not feed them. Fed dingoes become aggressive and may attack people particularly children. Photo: Queensland Government

When dingoes are fed or scavenge rubbish, they often lose their effective hunting skills and start to depend on scraps and hand-outs. They also lose their natural fear of humans and expect food from everybody.

Dingoes then visit camps, picnic areas, resorts and residences, follow people and tear open tents looking for food. Pups from these dingoes are not taught to hunt effectively; instead they grow up scavenging from these areas. As a result, they are no longer wary of people and often become aggressive and, on one occasion, a dingo tragically killed a child.

Dingoes have bitten visitors, occasionally quite severely, and are capable of killing people. These dingoes are euthanised—sadly, for habits learnt from people.

When dingoes come close

Dingoes will fight to gain dominance. People should not mistake this for playfulness. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes will fight to gain dominance. People should not mistake this for playfulness. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes will occasionally approach humans, because they are naturally curious. They should be treated with absolute caution. Remember, these are wild and unpredictable animals.

Dingoes on Fraser Island have chased joggers and children who are playing. What appears as playful dog behaviour is actually serious dominance testing by the dingoes, which can lead to aggression. Avoid jogging and running as it can attract and excite dingo attention, and trigger a negative interaction.

People walking alone have been threatened and nipped by dingoes. Stay in small groups.

Some dingoes visit lakes and hunt around the shorelines. They will snatch picnics and will open unsecured ice boxes, especially if they are on the ground. They may become aggressive when people try to pull food away. Don't take food or drinks, except water, to lake shores.

Be aware that at Lake McKenzie, all food and drinks, except water, are definitely prohibited.

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Dingo attacks

Dingoes have bitten visitors, occasionally quite severely, and are capable of killing people. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes have bitten visitors, occasionally quite severely, and are capable of killing people. Photo: Queensland Government

People who feed or encourage dingoes contribute to those animals becoming habituated or learning to associate food with people, and the need to dominate for access to food—a natural instinct of a wild predator. This leads to dominance testing against people, and often children are targeted. If successful, the dingoes then move into more and more aggressive tactics to get access to food. This can result in serious bites or mauling and in some cases small groups of three or four dingoes have attacked together. This frightening experience for people is often directly related to someone who has fed or encouraged these dingoes in the past.

If you feel threatened by a dingo:

  • stand up to your full height
  • face the dingo
  • fold your arms and keep eye contact
  • calmly back away
  • if in pairs, stand back to back
  • confidently call for help
  • do not run or wave your arms.

Also see: Be dingo-safe on Fraser Island

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Dingoes and children

Dingoes move quickly! Always stay very close to your children. Illustration: Maria-Ann Loi for Queensland Government

Dingoes move quickly! Always stay very close to your children. Illustration: Maria-Ann Loi for Queensland Government

Always stay very close to your children. Many children are scared by dingoes. Some have been bitten by dingoes that want food or have been excited by children’s movements. Children are vulnerable because their size does not intimidate a dingo as much as an adult person. Even small teenagers are at risk.

Do not expect your children to remember what to do if a dingo comes close or threatens them. Parents: stay alert! Dingoes move quickly. Stay very close to your children (within arm's reach) and never let them sleep in a tent without adults.

Watch this short safety video clip (Windows Media Video file, 2.3M)† for quick information.

Download a Be dingo-safe! flyer (PDF, 1.1M) to take to the island with you.

Bush toileting? Never go alone!

People who need to bush toilet generally sit in a squatting position. This makes them vulnerable to dingo bites. Be dingo-safe! Never go alone. Photo: Queensland Government

People who need to bush toilet generally sit in a squatting position. This makes them vulnerable to dingo bites. Be dingo-safe! Never go alone. Photo: Queensland Government

Toilet facilities are available, but sometimes visitors have to bush toilet. Everyone should take care when bush toileting on Fraser Island.

Some of the beach camping areas are popular for large groups, such as backpacker groups. These beach areas are cleared areas, behind the foredunes and have few or no facilities. Noise and cooking smells will attract dingoes that may stay out of sight, waiting for an opportunity to steal some food. People needing to bush toilet—especially women and children—should never go alone, in case dingoes are around. One person should always stand nearby and keep a look out for dingoes.

Dingoes are attracted to and will try to dig up bush toilet sites. Always dig a very deep hole—at least 50cm deep and 50m from any watercourse—and bury your toilet waste (including used toilet paper) as soon as you have finished. Do not bury soiled sanitary items and nappies or leave them lying around. Place these items into a bag and a sealed rubbish container, and bin them as soon as you can.

It is recommended that campers who choose to camp in low or no facility areas bring their own portable toilet and use the portable toilet waste disposal facilities located across the island. Waste disposal locations include the southern entrance to Cornwall’s beach camping area and the Dundubara campground entrance track. Do not bury chemical toilet waste.

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Fishing

Dingoes will catch fish in the shallows off the beach or from temporary lagoons that form between the water’s edge and the foredunes. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes will catch fish in the shallows off the beach or from temporary lagoons that form between the water’s edge and the foredunes. Photo: Queensland Government

The beach on Fraser Island is dingo territory too. They roam along the shore looking for any washed up remnants of dead marine life. They are attracted to anything left lying on the beach—buckets, plastic bait bags, berley sacks etc.—and will investigate anything for traces of food.

When fishing, keep fish and bait in sealed containers or in your vehicle. This also applies to berley. Fish cleaning in all campsites is prohibited. Certain areas along the beach, high visitation sites or entrances to townships, are designated ‘Fish cleaning prohibited’ areas and are clearly signposted.

Bait and fish should be kept with you in shoulder bags or in the vehicle. Do not leave anything in open beach buckets and keep berley and fish remains in sealed containers; not tied to the outside of the vehicle.

Bury fish offal and remains in a deep hole (50 cm at least), just below the high tide mark. Do this when there are no dingoes around to stop them associating food with people. High penalties apply for feeding or making food available to dingoes. This also applies to berley bags that are hung outside the vehicle. Keep all fishing tackle, bait and your catch secure.

Report dingo encounters

Report negative dingo encounters—circling, lunging or being chased or bailed up by one or more dingoes, tearing tents or stealing property, nipping, biting or worse—to a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Ranger or phone 13 QGOV (13 74 68) as soon as possible. Mobile phone charges may apply.

For all emergencies phone Triple Zero (000)

Try 112 from a mobile phone if you have no reception.

For all non-urgent medical assistance, phone 13 12 33.

If you have information about any other encounter with a dingo you can email with the details.

Remember QPWS rangers profile all known dingoes and positive or neutral encounters are welcome too.

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Related information

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Last updated
6 June 2016