The debate over thetaxonomic status of dingo’s has long been a contentious topic for academics since it was first encountered by Europeans in the late 1700s.
As wild domestic dog populations continue to crossbreed with “dingo” populations any real chance of a pure ancient dingo bloodline dissapears.
The ABC reported, Widespread reforms to WA’s Biodiversity Conservation Act, expected next year, will not consider a change to the existing classification of a dingo as a wild dog, not native to Australia.
The iconic animals are considered no different to wild dogs and can be trapped or killed without permission in many places.
Dingoes are currently classed as unprotected native fauna and a declared pest, but the animals will be listed as non-fauna under widespread reform to the Act.
Leigh Mullan from the WA Dingo Association said the animals are a vital part of the ecosystem and lack important protection measures.
“In the wild, at the moment, they do have some pseudo-protection. But when they’re classified as non-fauna they can be killed anywhere in the state,” he said.
Under current legislation, an animal is considered a native species if it is indigenous to Australia or arrived before 1400 AD.
WA’s Minister for Environment, Stephen Dawson, also has the power to make a determination.
In a statement to the ABC, Mr Dawson said under the proposed changes “I will make an order that determines that the dingo is not fauna for the purposes of the Act”.
The decision by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions was based on a 2017 study published in the scientific journal Zootaxa.
The authors argue dingoes can not be considered a separate subspecies due to their inbreeding with wild dogs.
A Department fact sheet said “they concluded that the Australian dingo should not be recognised as a separate subspecies to wild dogs”.
Associate Professor Euan Ritchie from Deakin University, who has studied the role of dingoes in the Australian environment, said the animals perform a vital role in controlling the numbers of feral animals like cats and foxes.
“We really need to be thinking about how we can maintain the dingo in the landscape while reducing potential negative impacts on things like livestock,” he said.
“The dingo is all we have.”
He said he believed the reclassification could have a negative impact on their population.
Mr Stoate, manager of Anna Plains Station, south of Broome, said that the dingo’s classification had little bearing on working the land.
“I can’t really see what difference it [any changes to legislation] will make at all to controlling wild dogs,” he said.
“We do aerial baiting which obviously doesn’t distinguish between a wild dog and a dingo.
“The practical difference will be very little, I think, so we will have to wait and see.”