CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A pack of dingoes drove a jogging woman into the waves and attacked her in the latest clash between native dogs and humans on a popular Australian island, prompting new warnings on Tuesday adventuring visitors.
The 24-year-old was attacked by three or four dingoes on Monday while jogging on a beach in K’gari, Queensland, the world’s largest sand island formerly known as Fraser Island, officials said.
The World Heritage-listed national park is home to some of Australia’s purest dingoes, which are also known by their native name wongari, as domestic dogs have long been banned. Tourists have returned to the island after the pandemic restrictions were lifted and found that the dingoes have become less suspicious of humans. This increased the danger to both species, said ranger Linda Behrendorff.
Two bystanders rescued the woman from dingoes after chasing her into the waves, using the same hunting technique they use for larger prey such as wallabies, Behrendorff said.
The victim was airlifted to Hervey Bay Hospital on the mainland in stable condition with multiple bite wounds to his limbs and torso, the Queensland Ambulance Service said.
Park authorities are considering destroying the dingo pack, which includes one that had been taped due to previous “high-risk behavior” toward humans, Behrendorff said.
Last month, a dingo became the first to be destroyed on the island since 2019 after attacking a 7-year-old boy and biting a 42-year-old French tourist on the buttocks. Dingoes are a protected species.
Visitors to the island are warned to beware of dingoes. Tourists are advised not to run or jog outside fenced areas, to keep children close at hand, to walk with a stick, and to avoid providing food to dingoes. Dingoes primarily approach humans for food.
The situation would be much safer if tourists didn’t need wildlife selfies to post on social media, she said.
“These people are putting themselves in danger and they are putting this animal in danger by calling them for a selfish photo to post this in a situation that makes them look like a great hero,” Behrendorff told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “They don’t understand the risks they’ve exposed themselves to and even this animal.”
She cited a recent example of a man posting a photo of himself hand-feeding a dingo while a toddler was next to him.
“We spend most of our time trying to manage people. Dingoes will do what dingoes do. Dingoes are easy to control,” Behrendorff said.
Darren Blake, member of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corp. who represents the traditional owners of K’gari, said visitors should understand that dingoes are very different from domestic dogs.
“My heart goes out to the young lady and I hope this touches everyone,” Blake said, referring to the victim of Monday’s attack.
“They are not puppies. They are wild, apex predators. Give them that respect,” Blake added.
George Seymour, mayor of the local Fraser Coast regional council, said there appeared to have been more attacks on the island in the past two years than there had been in the last previous decade.
“Something different has happened in the last couple of years,” Seymour said, referring to how often dingoes interact with people.
The change was “very, very concerning because it’s extremely terrifying to be attacked by wild animals,” Seymour added.