Recreational fishing alters dingo foraging behavior on Fraser Island

Eloïse C. Déaux, Trent Crowe, Isabelle Charrier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Supplemental feeding, whether intentional or accidental, alters wildlife foraging behaviors and may have consequences at the population and ecosystem levels. Wildlife feeding may also cause animals to develop aggressive behaviors toward conspecifics and people. The risks to humans is potentially accrued when the species is a native predator. Food-based attraction has been implicated in the development of human-directed aggression in the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) population on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia. Management strategies such as education programs, prohibition of inappropriate human behaviors, and fencing of garbage dumps have been implemented to stop the (intentional or inadvertent) feeding of dingoes by people. Despite these efforts, dingoes continue to obtain human-sourced food, suggesting that other means of supplemental feeding are still available. One possible source of subsidized food is recreational fishing, which is a popular activity on the island. We conducted a quasi-experimental study during May–June 2014 of dingo foraging behaviors on the eastern beach of Fraser Island. We video-recorded the behaviors of lone and groups of dingoes when they were in the vicinity of anglers or by themselves. We hypothesized that if recreational fishing was a source of subsidies to dingoes, then there would be differences in dingo foraging behavior among the 2 groups. We found that in the absence of anglers, dingoes spent 81% of their time engaged in mobile food-related behaviors. When anglers were present, however, they spent 52% of their time sitting and resting. These results suggest that dingoes shifted from active searching to a sit and wait foraging mode upon detecting recreational anglers. We observed an event in which a dingo spent 2 hours resting near an angler, then dug up the fish remains buried by the man as soon as he had left the area. This and other anecdotal evidence support the view that the changes in dingo foraging activity detected in this study were related to increased opportunities to secure food from anglers. Recreational fishing may play an important role in the inadvertent subsidizing of dingoes on Fraser Island, although further investigations are needed before proposing and implementing additional conservation and management actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • behavior
  • Canis lupus dingo
  • human–wildlife conflicts
  • mammal
  • optimal foraging theory
  • Queensland
  • tourism
  • wildlife feeding

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