Dingoes attack a woman jogging on Australian island beach and leave her hospitalized

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A pack of dingoes drove a woman who was jogging into the surf and attacked her in the latest clash between native dogs and humans on a popular Australian island, sparking new warnings Tuesday to visitors venturing out.

The 24-year-old woman was attacked by three or four dingoes on Monday while she was jogging on a beach at Queensland state’s K’gari, the world’s largest sand island formerly known as Fraser Island, officials said.

The World Heritage-listed national park is home to some of Australia’s purest dingoes, which are also known by their Indigenous name wongari, because domestic dogs have long been banned. Tourists returned to the island after pandemic restrictions were lifted, and have found the dingoes have become less wary of humans. That’s raised the danger to both species, wildlife ranger Linda Behrendorff said.

Two passersby rescued the woman from the dingoes after they chased her into the surf, using the same hunting technique they use for larger prey such as wallabies, Behrendorff said.

The victim was flown by helicopter to Hervey Bay Hospital on the mainland in a stable condition suffering multiple bite wounds to her limbs and torso, the Queensland Ambulance Service said.

Park authorities are considered whether to destroy the dingo pack, which includes one that had been collared because of previous “high risk behavior” toward humans, Behrendorff said.

A dingo last month became the first to be destroyed on the island since 2019 after it attacked a 7-year-old boy and nipped a 42-year-old French tourist on the buttocks. Dingoes are a protected species.

Visitors to the island are warned to beware of dingoes. Tourists are advised not to run or jog outside fenced areas, to keep children within arm’s reach, to walk with a stick and to avoid providing dingoes with food. Dingoes mostly approach humans for food.

The situation would be far safer without tourists’ need for selfies with wildlife to post on social media, she said.

“Those people are putting themselves at risk and they’re putting that animal at risk by calling them over to get a selfish shot in order to post that in a situation that makes themselves look like a big hero,” Behrendorff told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “They don’t understand the risks that they’ve put themselves and even that animal into.”

She cited a recent example of a man posting a photograph of him handfeeding a dingo while a toddler was beside him.

“We spend most of our time trying to manage people. Dingoes will do what dingoes do. Dingoes are easy to work out,” Behrendorff said.

Darren Blake, a member of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corp. which represents K’gari’s traditional owners, said visitors needed to understand that dingoes were far different from domestic dogs.

“My heart goes out to the young lady and hopefully this hits home for everybody else,” Blake said, referring to the victim of Monday’s attack.

“They’re not puppy dogs. They’re wild, apex predators. Give them that respect,” Blake added.

George Seymour, mayor of the local Fraser Coast Regional Council, said there seemed to have been more attacks on the island in the last two years than there had been in the previous decade.

“Something different is happening over the past two years,” Seymour said, referring to the frequency on dingo interactions with people.

The change was “very, very concerning because it’s extremely terrifying to be attacked by wildlife,” Seymour added.