Two women in Queensland, Australia have been handed hefty fines for taking selfies next to several wild dogs, called dingoes, according to local authorities.
An official with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) on Friday said the two unnamed tourists were charged AU$2,300 (over C$2,045) for their “extremely dangerous decision” to approach the dingoes.
In recent months, the native wild dogs have violently attacked a number of people. One dingo responsible for several ferocious attacks, including biting a seven-year-old boy, was euthanized in June.
The two women were visiting the Queensland island of K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) when they encountered the dingoes, locally called wongari. They uploaded their selfies, and a video with the dingoes, to social media.
An image provided by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science shows one of the women, a 29-year-old apparently from New South Wales, laying in the grass next to three sleeping dingo pups.
“She was lucky the mother of the pups wasn’t nearby,” said the department’s compliance manager, Mike Devery. “Wongari are known for defending their packs and their pups, and it is unbelievable that people would endanger their well-being like this.”
The other tourist, a 25-year-old from Queensland, uploaded a video that showed her near a growling dingo.
Devery warned that the behaviour in the video is “not playful.”
“Wongari are wild animals and need to be treated as such, and the woman is lucky the situation did not escalate,” he said.
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The department said interacting with dingoes is “irresponsible” and will not be tolerated.
Earlier this week, a 23-year-old woman was hospitalized with serious injuries to her limbs after she was bitten by a dingo while jogging in K’gari, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science claimed. The woman, who was rescued by a nearby tourist who witnessed the attack, was reportedly bitten 30 times. Officials said the dingo had likely “lost its natural wariness of people.”
Dingoes are visually similar to domesticated dogs and are usually 120 centimetres long and 60 centimetres tall. They often hunt for rabbits and small rodents alone, or in groups up to 12.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Science strongly discourages people from approaching dingoes. Tourists should never feed the animals and should never run from an approaching dingo, for fear of triggering a negative interaction.
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