The best way to shoo away a dingo might be carrying around an umbrella.
Griffith University researchers have studied the least invasive methods to keep the well-known Australian animal on Fraser Island at bay since spates of incidents from 2001 prompted calls for more effective management interventions.
PhD student Rob Appleby, of Griffith’s Environmental Futures Research Institute and a team of researchers recommend personal repellents such as sprays and carrying umbrellas.
The research, published in Pacific Conservation Biology, details a handful of methods.
Currently only electric fences are used, and although effective, Mr Appleby said this approach could not be applied everywhere.
Mr Appleby said portable electric fences, primarily used in the US for bears and wolves, were an available option but not as common in Australia yet.
Sticks are often used and suggested as a deterrent on the island. However, the paper highlights that among 160 serious dingo incident reports collected by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) there were seven cases found where people threatened by dingoes were listed as carrying sticks.
Some 67 per cent of incidents also occurred while people were walking or running.
“The two things that stood out for us was a spray with citronella and opening and closing umbrellas which can also serve as a shield,” Mr Appleby said.
“Personal protection is one of the key elements for both the protection of people and dingoes.
“Despite the fact it’s actually very rare that dingoes attack or bite people it still happens occasionally and can end catastrophically so tried to focus on methods with the greatest potential to keep people safe without harming dingoes.
“It’s the best thing for people and dingoes if there some distance between them.”
Mr Appleby said that for the worst possible cases, shock collars offered some merit as another step before lethal control.
“We tried to stress this is not something we would recommend unless in dire circumstances,” he said.
Researchers plan to do further testing with umbrellas.