ABSTRACT

Public opposition has shaped management of wild animals in Australia, but public interest in dingo control has been minimal. We hypothesised that this is due to lack of awareness of dingo management practices, in part because using the term “wild dogs” to describe management renders “dingoes” invisible, framing the issue as one of control of introduced pests rather than control of an iconic Australian animal. We distributed an online questionnaire survey to the Australian public (N = 811) to measure how the public perceived dingoes and their management, how these views compared with other animals managed as pests in Australia, and whether the term “wild dogs” has shaped views and knowledge of dingo management. Most respondents (84.6%) considered dingoes to be native to Australia and there was low approval of lethal control methods, except when justification was provided (e.g., to protect livestock or endangered native species). Only 19.1% were aware that “wild dog” management included dingoes, and attitudes towards “wild dogs” were more negative than those towards dingoes. If public awareness about dingo management increases, pressure from the public may result and shape future management actions, including restricting the use of lethal control practices like poison baiting on public lands. As such, public attitudes should be incorporated into decision-making, and appropriate communication strategies need to be employed to prevent backlash.

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