Dingo attack may spur visitor cap
A DINGO attack on a three-year-old girl on Fraser Island has resurrected debate over island use and may trigger an attempt to cap vehicle numbers.
The prospect of a cap on vehicles was applauded yesterday by animal activists but players in the island's multi-million dollar tourism industry said jobs and profits had to be protected.
As news broke yesterday that the toddler savaged by dingoes on Monday had been discharged from Gympie Hospital, Department of Environment and Resource Management chief Terry Harper said it was time to consider whether tougher controls on vehicle access were needed.
This question is linked to the broader problem of habituation of wildlife to people and the resultant risk of attacks.
The three-year-old had been visiting the island and was waiting to board the ferry at Hook Point in the south of the island to cross to Inskip Point when she was mauled by two adult dingoes.
“Certainly (a cap on vehicles) is an option ... to ensure that it stays lovely and is a nice place to visit and so we don't damage the environment – the concept is fine,” Mr Harper said.
“With the barge points there is a mechanism by which we can achieve that.
“There are already caps in place on tour operators in terms of where they can go and how they operate.
"And the limits that are in place for camping numbers are also part of that.
“Vehicle restrictions would be a matter of public debate in the context of revenue and overall management arrangements for the island so I think it is worthy of further talks.”
DERM rangers are understood to have destroyed the dingoes involved in the attack, believed to be a part of the Hook Point pack.
Save Fraser Island Dingoes secretary Karin Kilpatrick welcomed the idea of capping vehicle numbers but was critical of DERM's dingo management.
“The dingo's diet is 40% fish and they need access to the coast,” Mrs Kilpatrick said.
“At the moment they are just not getting that due to the amount of traffic.”
Kingfisher general manager David Hay reported earlier this week that preliminary counts suggested the Kingfisher barges had transported more than 500 vehicles to Fraser Island on Good Friday.
“From a pragmatic point of view, and an economic point of view any move that would reduce visitors to the region would be the wrong move,” Mr Hay said.