One of the dingoes on Fraser Island pictured with a collar around its neck.
One of the dingoes on Fraser Island pictured with a collar around its neck. Fran Lawlor

EXCLUSIVE: How dingo behaviour changed during island closure

A DINGO regularly seen in popular tourist spots on Fraser Island behaved very differently during the extended COVID-19 closure.

The dingo has been tracked for 12 months and was regularly seen around campground, permanent residences and popular beaches.

"In the absence of people, following the island's closure, her behaviour was typical dingo behaviour," a spokesman from the Department of Environment and Science said.

"She interacted with other dingoes, and found her own food."

The dingo, known as Yellow Tag, has sparked controversy since photos of the female animal in a large collar went viral earlier this year.

She made headlines again last month when it was suggested she had lost condition and the collar now might be impeding her ability to hunt.

But the spokesman said her behaviour during the closure was proof that dingoes did not need to be fed.

"She periodically visited inland areas, and spent time on the eastern beach around the Eli Creek and Happy Valley area.

The dingo known as Yellow Tag feasting on a grouper on Fraser Island.
The dingo known as Yellow Tag feasting on a grouper on Fraser Island.

"She also spent time around empty, unfenced private residences before moving back to the Eli Creek Maheno area.

"During the approximate 10-week closure, rangers regularly observed her foraging for food, including feeding on a deceased grouper."

There are currently two dingoes on the island wearing collars after displaying high-risk behaviour.

One dingo has been wearing the device for 12 months, the other, also a female, for five weeks.

"The tracking collars have not disadvantaged or restricted the dingoes," the spokesman said.

"Both animals have been observed by rangers successfully hunting and interacting with other dingoes."

The tracking collars provide valuable behavioural information, the spokesman said.

"The female who has been wearing a collar for 12 months has provided unique, never before witnessed intelligence about her seasonal movements.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to observe behavioural changes throughout the closure of K'gari in an absence of people, and her current behaviour with the return of visitors and campers.

"Queenslands Parks and Wildlife Service rangers closely monitor animals wearing a collar and will remove the collar if the animal's condition is negatively impacted.

"Some interactions have been reported since the island reopened and DES encourages members of the public to practice dingo-safe behaviour while on K'gari."

People have been reminded never to feed or interact with dingoes.

On the spot fines for feeding or interacting with dingoes range from a minimum of $2135 per offence, to a maximum of $10,676.