Interactions between dingoes and domestic dogs in Australia have implications for disease spread, but to understand the potential impact, better knowledge of the nature of this dingo-domestic dog interface is needed. Driven by a need to assess the risk of a rabies incursion in northern Australia and its likely impact, a field research program was initiated in 2012, focused on the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) of Cape York, Queensland. There is scant information available on how and under what circumstances dingoes interact with domestic dogs, which is a gap in disease preparedness and response, and studies have been conducted on both domestic dogs and dingoes in this area. Here we describe one study that used camera-trap data to assess fixed and variable characteristics of NPA dingo populations. Because of the dingo-domestic dog interface and hybridisation in the NPA, we hypothesised that some dingo-type dogs might exhibit domestic dog traits. During 12 months of monitoring, 24 phenotypically-based dingo-type dogs were identified. Seven of these that were studied in more detail exhibited both dingo-like and domestic dog-like traits. Activity was concentrated at an unofficial waste site and mostly at night, and interactions between these seven dingo-like dogs were observed. Although interactions between this subset of highly active dingoes and domestic dogs were not observed, two such interactions were observed within the larger group of dingoes. Whilst this study provides baseline information about the role that the dingo-domestic dog interface could play in disease spread – such as in the event of a rabies incursion – it is a snapshot in a single region. To inform disease surveillance, control and management plans, multidisciplinary research involving ecologists, epidemiologists and veterinarians, together with indigenous communities, is needed to further define the dingo-domestic dog interface in Australia.
The dingo-domestic dog interface: implications for disease spread
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Michael P. Ward, Kathryn Qing-Ling Sivieng, Victoria Brookes; The dingo-domestic dog interface: implications for disease spread. Australian Zoologist 1 June 2021; 41 (3): 388–407. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2020.022
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