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Be dingo-safe! on Fraser Island

Help protect dingoes and stay safe

Be dingo-safe on Fraser Island. Your actions can make a difference. Photo: Queensland Government

Be dingo-safe on Fraser Island. Your actions can make a difference. Photo: Queensland Government

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) takes safety seriously. Keeping people as safe as possible, and alerting them to dangers, helps everyone on Fraser Island to work, live and visit safely.

Keeping the dingoes safe on Fraser Island is important too. The island is big enough—166,000 ha—to prevent inbreeding and is isolated enough to prevent cross-breeding. The role of Fraser Island Dingo Conservation and Risk Management Strategy is to provide a range of management strategies to promote the best outcomes for both human safety and dingo welfare on Fraser Island.

The dingoes on Fraser Island roam all over the island. QPWS has installed dingo-deterrent fencing around most townships, the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village, K'gari Educational and Cultural Centre, Cathedral Beach camping area, and most of the QPWS camping areas (except the beach camping areas).

Never leave anything lying around, as dingoes are curious. Even small oversights can make dingoes more fearless. Your actions can make a difference.

Help protect dingoes and stay safe when you’re on Fraser Island. Follow the guidelines below and be dingo-safe!

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Dingo threats or attacks

Generally dingoes go about their lives and stay clear of people. Unhabituated dingoes have a natural fear of people and shy away. From time to time, dingoes may come close and some encounters can turn to tragedy. Stay alert and stay calm.

If you feel threatened

  • Stand still at your full height and fold your arms across your chest.
  • Face the dingo, then calmly back away.
  • If you are with another person, stand back to back.
  • Confidently call for help.
  • Wait until the dingo or dingoes are gone before you continue on your way.
  • Do not run or wave your arms.

If you are attacked

Defend yourself aggressively and strike the dingo with an object such as a stick or backpack.

As soon as you can, report any negative incidents to a QPWS ranger.

Try to remember a few distinguishing features of the dingo:

Try to remember a few distinguishing features of the dingo

Take note of the features of any threatening animal—all dingoes have unique variations, which makes identification easier. Illustration: Maria-Ann Loi for Queensland Government.

Also see: How does an aggressive dingo behave?

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Never feed dingoes

Dingoes that get their food from people may quickly become aggressive; don't have a dingo attack on your conscience. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes that get their food from people may quickly become aggressive; don't have a dingo attack on your conscience. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes that get their food from people may quickly become aggressive. Do not leave food or food scraps lying around. What may have been an easy steal from your unattended food, can lead to dingoes harassing other people for food—sometimes aggressively.

It is recommended that you do not take food to lakes, because a picnic on the shore of a lake puts food at 'dingo level'—hard to resist for an animal that is always on the lookout for an easy meal. Young children or babies sitting on a picnic rug, or playing on the shore of a lake or the beach, can get caught up in a dingo's attempts to steal food, and could be nipped or bitten.

The good natural food that dingoes find on Fraser Island and the energy they use to patrol their territories, hunt, mate and generally live from day to day, means they are naturally lean.

Don't be tricked into feeding a dingo because it looks hungry to you. Some leaner dingoes may be juveniles just starting out on their own or, if older, may be subordinate animals in the pack hierarchy. You are not doing them a favour by feeding them.

It is illegal to feed or offer food to dingoes; or any other wildlife. On-the-spot penalties apply

Also see: What happens when people feed dingoes? and What makes a dingo a 'dangerous' dingo?  

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Always stay within arm's reach of children, even small teenagers

Dingoes normally sit quietly to survey their territory for prey; they may be closer than you think. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes normally sit quietly to survey their territory for prey; they may be closer than you think. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes move quickly!

It is natural for a dingo to sit quietly sometimes and survey their territory or watch for prey. Dingoes may be closer than you think and they move quickly.

Children cannot be relied upon to know or remember what to do if threatened by dingoes. Some children have been bitten by dingoes that have wanted food or were excited by the children running and playing.

What looks like playful dog behaviour is often serious dominance-testing by dingoes. People caught up in this display for dominance can be bitten or seriously mauled. Sadly, dingoes that bite people must be euthanised, as they have lost their fear of people.

It is best for us and the dingoes, if we keep them at a distance.

Keep children close and be alert

Adults! Stay very close—within arm's reach—of your children. Never leave children in tents, on beaches or walking tracks without adults; not even for a few minutes.

Your safety is our concern, but is your responsibility.

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Walk in groups

People walking alone on Fraser Island have been threatened and bitten by dingoes. Whether walking along the beach, around a lake or on one of the many walking tracks on Fraser Island, always walk in groups and stay alert for any dingo activity.

Do not let children run ahead. Always keep them close to you—within arm's reach.

Never go alone if you have to bush toilet while on a long-distance walking track. Have one person stand watch for dingoes.

Also see: People-dingo interactions

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Do not run. Running or jogging can trigger a negative dingo interaction

People jogging and running on Fraser Island have been threatened and bitten by dingoes. Avoid jogging and running as it can attract and excite dingo attention, and trigger a negative interaction.

Camp in fenced areas when possible

It is recommended that families with children 14 years and under camp in the camping areas with dingo deterrent fences.

These are provided at Central Station camping areaDundubara camping areaLake Boomanjin camping areaWaddy Point top camping area.

Lock up your food stores and iceboxes (even on a boat)

Dingoes can open iceboxes, so always lock food away.

Dingoes can open iceboxes, so always lock food away.

Make your camp site boring to dingoes when you leave it for the day. Store food and rubbish in locked containers.

Make your camp site boring to dingoes when you leave it for the day. Store food and rubbish in locked containers.

Use camping area food storage lockers for storing food, or backpacks that contain food.

Use camping area food storage lockers for storing food, or backpacks that contain food.

Store all food inside your vehicle, not on top, and close all the doors. Photos: Queensland Government

Store all food inside your vehicle, not on top, and close all the doors. Photos: Queensland Government

Dingoes will chew through or tear into anything when looking for food. They can and will open unsecured iceboxes, food containers or rubbish bags. Do not store food or rubbish in spare tyre-mounted storage bags provided on some vehicles, as these make food more easily available to dingoes.

Dingoes that have lost their natural fear of people, will snatch food lying about on picnic rugs or tables. Keep all food and rubbish in strong, lockable containers. Secure containers or ice boxes with heavy-duty straps. Always think: Be dingo-safe!

Don’t take food and drink to lake shores.

Keep camp sites boring

If you need to leave your camp site set up, ensure you make the area ‘boring’ to dingoes. Leave nothing lying around or flapping about that they can steal or tear at. Never leave food in tents or in open boxes under tarps. Dingoes will rip through tents to get at what they think smells like food; even some shampoos and toothpastes are attractants.

Travellers

Clean up everything and use vehicles as storage.

Be dingo-safe!

  • Store food, bait, berley, fish, iceboxes and rubbish—food scraps, soiled nappies, tampons etc—inside the vehicle, not on top, and close all the doors.
  • While cooking, never leave food unattended; not even scraps or spills.
  • Clean up straight after cooking and eating, or store dirty dishes inside a closed vehicle.
  • Pour dirty washing up water into a deep hole well away from your camp or use the washing up facilities at the camping areas.
  • Remove all dingo attractants, including beer cans, juice and milk containers, empty cans, dish washing cloths and tea towels—anything that smells sweet or looks like food.

Walkers

Walkers may encounter dingoes on the tracks or in remote areas. The scent of food always attracts dingoes. They may drag backpacks away or tear into them to get at food.

Be dingo-safe!

  • Never leave backpacks unattended.
  • Clean up everything before going to sleep.
  • Never leave backpacks in tents.
  • Use the camping area's food storage lockers for food and backpacks (except valuables).
  • Store socks, boots and jackets in them as well, as the smell from these items can attract dingoes too.

Residents and holiday tenants

As well as the points above, please:

  • Ensure house doors and windows cannot be pushed open.
  • Keep compost and rubbish in secure containers.
  • Clean up barbecue areas and the cooking hotplate after use.
  • Close doors of parked vehicles.
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Pack away your food scraps

Don't invite dingoes to your picnic. Pack away food and scraps as soon as you can. Photo: Queensland Government

Don't invite dingoes to your picnic. Pack away food and scraps as soon as you can. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes are attracted by food scraps and smells. Even inside fenced camping areas, rubbish and food left out will attract other wildlife, that can also become a nuisance or dangerous.

Be dingo-safe no matter where you camp on Fraser Island. Remember it is an offence, whether in fenced or unfenced areas, to feed or leave food available for wildlife.

  • Clean all dishes and barbecue plates.
  • Immediately put rubbish bags in secured bins or vehicles.
  • Do not hang rubbish bags from vehicles, trees or tent poles.

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Dispose of rubbish correctly

All QPWS waste transfer stations are fenced for visitor safety and to deter dingoes from scavenging. Photo: Queensland Government

All QPWS waste transfer stations are fenced for visitor safety and to deter dingoes from scavenging. Photo: Queensland Government

All QPWS waste transfer stations are fenced. Visitors enter and leave by a spring-loaded gate. This offers visitors a safe disposal area and keeps dingoes away from bins and the temptation to raid them. Never leave rubbish or bags lying around. Bin everything.

  • Keep your rubbish in sealed containers until you get to the bins.
  • If a bin is full, use another.
  • Never go to the bins alone or at night.
  • Always ensure the gates close behind you when you enter and leave the fenced areas around the waste transfer stations.

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Store fish and bait correctly

Dingoes dig in the sand for food. Make sure you bury fish remains when dingoes are not around, and at least 50cm deep. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes dig in the sand for food. Make sure you bury fish remains when dingoes are not around, and at least 50cm deep. Photo: Queensland Government

Dingoes eat fish. In fact, dingoes are good fishers as well, but an open bucket of fish on the beach is just too tempting. Enjoy fishing on Fraser Island but avoid attracting dingoes. Penalties apply for feeding or making food available to dingoes.

Be dingo-safe!

  • Store bait and fish in shoulder bags or vehicles, not in beach buckets.
  • Cleaning fish in camp sites is prohibited.
  • Keep berley and fish remains in sealed containers—not hung on tents or bull bars.
  • Bury and cover your fish remains in a hole, at least 50cm deep, just below the high tide mark.

You can help to stop dingoes associating food with fishers; bury fish remains when dingoes are not around.

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Be dingo-safe at the lakes

Lakes are popular areas for dingoes too. Use the tables in the day-use areas for picnics, because picnics on a lake shore or the beach put food at 'dingo level'. This can attract dingoes and tempt them to steal your food, sometimes aggressively.

  • Take no food or drinks, except drinking water, to lake shores.
  • Use fenced picnic areas where provided.
  • When you have finished eating, pack everything including any rubbish back inside your vehicle, not on top.
  • Don't leave scraps or dish cloths lying around.
  • Lock your vehicle before going to the lake.

Read and heed safety messages and signs

Be dingo-safe!

Information is available in brochures, web pages and on signs. For your safety and the survival of the dingoes on Fraser Island, read and heed the safety messages and ensure your group stays dingo-safe.

Download a Be dingo-safe! flyer (PDF, 679K)* to take to the island with you.

Safety is our concern, but is your responsibility.

What is food to a dingo?

As well as their natural diet, dingoes will take many things we may not regard as ‘dingo food’—bottles of cooking oil, sauces, spreads, food wrappers, fruit and vegetables, bait, lollies (candy), even soap, toothpaste and leather shoes.

Dingoes learn to scavenge for food around camp sites by overturning or opening unsecured iceboxes, raiding rubbish bags, licking barbecue plates, drinking dirty washing up water and stealing from unattended picnic tables and tents.

While searching for food, dingoes might harass people or their children. Dingoes may try to intimidate people to scare them away from their picnic table or food boxes. If they succeed they are rewarded for their ploy and will try the same strategy at the next camp site. Soon they become aggressive and will nip or bite people who get in the way of their easy food.

QPWS needs all visitors and residents on Fraser Island to think very seriously about food storage and rubbish disposal. Be dingo-safe, keep food secured, never feed dingoes and don’t encourage them to come close. Your good actions will help dingoes remain wild and healthy animals.

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Last updated
13 March 2015