The scalp bonus certificates of 18 614 dingoes destroyed on the mid-north coast of NSW between 1958 and 1983 were examined. Annual scalp returns were highest in 1961 (1546), fell to 256 by 1974 then rose to 475 by 1983. The decline was associated more with a reduction in the area from which dingoes were taken rather than a reduced offtake from the overall area. Half the dingoes were taken by trapping and 37% were shot, although shooting, which was more opportunistic than trapping, became relatively more common during the period. The sex ratio of the dingoes killed was strongly biased towards males but there was evidence that this reflected the sex ratio in the dingo population. We suggest that the bias arose from higher natural mortality of female pups associated with their smaller size.
The number of hunters declined during the study. On average, each operated for 2.3 years (range 1-22) and killed 6.4 dingoes (range 1-231). A small group of hunters made a significant contribution to the total scalp take over time and there was some evidence of harvesting amongst this group. Two-thirds of the scalps were taken by property owners or their relatives and only 22% by hunters with no obvious association with the land on which they hunted. Because of this and the lack of any relationship between the cash value of the bonus and scalp returns, the value of the bonus system as an incentive to control dingoes is questionable.