Dingoes: making cattle farms more profitable
July 7, 2021 1:10 AM   Subscribe

Dingoes are considered a non-native wild dog in Western Australia. A giant fence through the country has been designed to prevent dingoes from entering the state. However, studies have shown that they are effective at controlling the feral foxes and cats that are destroying native wildlife. Now pastoralists who have seen massive benefits from allowing dingoes to return to their ranches are campaigning for a broader restoration program.
posted by rednikki (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Yay dingoes!
posted by awfurby at 2:33 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

There's quite a bit of "Nature, red in tooth and claw" in the article on the campaign. I mean, will no one think of the kangaroos, wallabies and feral goats? I guess part of the anthropocene is about meddling in ecosystems and seeing what happens, usually judging benefit based on what's good for humans (or money), and then reversing decisions as needed / possible.
posted by chavenet at 2:58 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

I suspect this is one of those "some dingoes good, way too many dingoes bad" situations. As long as there aren't too many dingoes, they'll mainly go after their natural food sources, but get a bunch of hungry dingoes around with not enough natural food sources and then they're eating your damn livestock again.
posted by wierdo at 3:22 AM on July 7 [4 favorites]

I think a lot of conversation David Pollock’s rehabilitation of land at Wooleen is about Australia’s long-standing coloniser mentality about sheep farming. For over a century the saying was that this country was ‘riding the sheep’s back’ - sheep husbandry being the source of our national prosperity. Pollock challenges sheep farming in WA in particular with this set of rehab activity and his promotion of a particular way to farm cattle.

His rejuvenation of his land at Wooleen and its congruent benefits to his cattle farming are controversial to his neighbours’ vast sheep stations. Both sheep and cattle are not great for the Yilgarn Craton’s shallow soils here in WA - their cloven feet contribute to soil erosion and destruction of waterholes. Sheep however eat similar lengthed grass as kangaroos - short and sweet, cattle prefer longer, coarser grass. Although cows are cloven, Pollock has found ways to harness cattle farming in a more sympathetic cycle with the soil conditions. As the articles point out, cattle are less prone to dingo predation. Kangaroos with their padded paws are not as detrimental to the soils as sheep (I think they should be farmed, much more sensible for our soil) but sheep are here to stay in Australia. It’s as Aussie as pork in Iowa.

In other articles I’ve read lately, the news (and considerable ire) in farming circles is that Pollock is simply anti sheep, and he is harming their businesses.

My dog is a dingo hybrid and officially the best dog there is, so I tend to see Pollock’s work favourably even though I have wild dog shooting farming family members.

[And if you’re in Western Australia in July or August, I thoroughly recommend a stay with the Pollocks during wildflower season. David is a brilliant guide and Wooleen Station is a stunning place to explore.]
posted by honey-barbara at 3:34 AM on July 7 [12 favorites]

It’s pretty amazing dingoes could be considered non-native when they’ve been a genetically distinct population in Australia for most of the current geological epoch. I mean, yeah, they were probably brought by people originally, but isn't that kind of just a technicality after 8000 years?
posted by theory at 4:14 AM on July 7 [15 favorites]

Hopefully, by the time we need to deal with the leopards we've brought in to control the exploding dingo population, the GM pteranodons will be ready to deploy.

I suppose hunting feral goats isn't as lucrative as commercial cattle ranching. 'cause that seems the obvious choice. These tasty, self-sufficient animals breed so fast despite us actively shooting them that we can't keep them from eating the food our incredibly inefficient, imported farm animals need to survive! (To be clear, I've got nothing against dingos. Dingos are neat. And this sounds like a better idea than most such ideas.)
posted by eotvos at 5:47 AM on July 7

I guess part of the anthropocene is about meddling in ecosystems and seeing what happens

Living in the anthropocene means being surrounded by ecosystems that have already been thrown out of whack by human intervention, and making hard choices between further intervention or just backing away slowly and letting them decide whether they're going to collapse or regain some sort of equilibrium on their own.
posted by firechicago at 6:29 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]

Eotvos- feral goats are being herded and sent to abattoirs for overseas (mainly Muslim countries) markets, as well as being bred with domesticated breeds for better taste n carcass weight outcomes. There’s like 2.6m+ of the critters and a whole industry in mustering them instead of shooting and leaving them to rot.

Also feral camels.

(I’m an ABC Landline nerd - there was an episode on the damage goats do to essential native flora and pastoralists’ responses.)
posted by honey-barbara at 6:41 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]

My favorite thing at parties in non-Australian countries is to explain Australia's feral camel problem. (Well, not my FAVORITE thing. But it's up there so far as topics of conversation are concerned.)
posted by rednikki at 7:42 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]

> the GM pteranodons will be ready to deploy.

In order to minimize any possible delay on this front, I hereby propose that we preoccupy ourselves entirely with the question of whether or not we could do this, sparing no time to think if we should.
posted by 7segment at 9:04 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]

get a bunch of hungry dingoes around with not enough natural food sources and then they're eating your damn livestock again.

Don't know if it's the case in Australia, but here in the States, a lot of "wolf attacks" are actually the result of ranchers intentionally setting out an ill or injured cow so that the wolves leave a carcass that can be claimed as a loss for insurance and government compensation.
posted by explosion at 12:03 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]

My favorite thing at parties in non-Australian countries is to explain Australia's feral camel problem

Surely the Great Emu War is more fun .....
posted by mbo at 1:11 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

This puts me in mind of a children's book a friend sent to me years ago.. I highly recommend this book: The Rabbits (J. Marsden and S. Tan). Here is an excerpt (reading via YT).
posted by elkevelvet at 2:31 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

Dingoes are great.

Pastoralists are the fucking worst and have utterly devastated the outback. Cubbie Farm, Rio Tinto (et al), and pastoralists can all go fuck a shoe.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:35 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]

Sorry, "pastoralists" sounds too quaint and almost romantic. "Wholesale tree-fellers" is what I meant.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:36 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

This post sparks joy.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:37 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]

When dingos came here however many thousands of years ago the kangaroo and wallaby survived til today. The foxes, feral cats, and humans are their biggest problems. Dingo deals with the first two and if we, as the third, can work out a better way to decolonise our agriculture then good. Because it turns out our custodians and original people managed this land a whole lot better than the colonising 'pastoralists' who don't seem to manage understanding that this land is not Britain, is not meant to work the same way.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:18 PM on July 7

my Dingo.
posted by clavdivs at 10:01 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]

It’s as Aussie as pork in Iowa.

Holy shit, that is a very specific reference that, as an Iowan, I totally understand.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:30 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

I forgot the obligatory pet dingo pic - it’s Clyde everyone and he’s baby / sheep/ roo/ proof 🥰
posted by honey-barbara at 12:49 AM on July 8

This post is great and all but I'm just here for the pictures of very good dingoes...
posted by prismatic7 at 4:48 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]

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