Tourist Fined $2,000 for Hand Feeding Dingo on Popular Island

by Amy Myers
Photo by Gilles MARTIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Bystanders caught an Australian tourist hand-feeding a dingo (also known as wongari) while waiting for a ferry on the ever-popular Fraser Island, located roughly 155 miles north of Brisbane. Now, the tourist is paying the (hefty) price for the mistake. According to authorities, the incident originally took place back in April. However, this week, the Australian court system handed down a fine of a whopping $2,300 to the thoughtless tourist.

“A member of the public told rangers the man was at the front of the vehicle line while he was waiting for the ferry at Hook Point back in April,” Mike Devery, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Sciences (DES) compliance manager, said in a statement. “The person said the man was ‘brazenly’ feeding the wongari, and given his place at the front of the queue, his offending was witnessed by multiple people.”

Devery continued, “Thankfully, the member of the public was able to take photos of the man as he fed the wongari, and they provided them to rangers.”

The photo was unmistakable. In it, the 23-year-old tourist hopped out of his truck, approached a dingo and bent down to feed it biscuits from just inches away.

“The man told compliance officers that he threw biscuits in the sand to the wongari when he was cleaning out his vehicle,” Devery explained.

The Fraser Island safety guide explicitly states that feeding or interacting with dingos is a punishable offense. But apparently, this tourist didn’t get the memo.

Fraser Island Dingos Thrive on the Lack of Human Interaction

Understandably, Australia has a “zero-tolerance approach to the deliberate feeding of wongari because people who feed or interfere with wongari put themselves and other people in danger,” acting compliance manager Adam Northam said at the time.

Australia is home to between 10,000 and 50,000 dingos, and Fraser Island has roughly 200. On the island, these wild dogs have little interference from humans and from breeding with domestic dogs, both of which are threats to the population on the mainland. This separation from human interaction ensures that the population thrives solely on natural resources.

Because of this, “There is no need to cull them in order to control the population because it self-regulated due to natural environmental pressures, such as food scarcity.”

However, the tourist’s behavior directly affects how dingos will perceive humans and may even encourage closer encounters with these wild dogs. The more that these canines see humans as a resource, the more likely the chances are of an attack.

“The dingoes on Fraser Island being free-to-roam has caused some tragic incidents with visiting tourists, Daniel Clarke of Discover Hervey Bay explained. “For this reason, high-risk dingoes that have the potential to attack humans are euthanized and there have been measures such as fencing put in place to try to keep the dingoes separate from the tourists as much as possible.”