A Melton environment group fears that introducing dingoes to the Eynesbury forest for pest control will have adverse effects on native wildlife.
Earlier this year, Aus Eco Solutions and the Australian Dingo Foundation announced a Working Dingoes Saving Wildlife project, under which it was proposed to reintroduce dingoes to Eynesbury forest as an alternative to poisoning and trapping feral animals.
The dingoes would be enclosed in a 10-hectare area surrounded by three-metre-high fences.
But Melton Environment Group president Daryl Akers is concerned the dingoes will eradicate native wildlife, including possums, reptiles and vulnerable ground-nesting birds such as the rare speckled warbler and the diamond firetail.
“The dingoes would kill the foxes and rabbits, but they’d also kill other wildlife,” Mr Akers said. “Once upon a time, dingoes would have had massive hunting ranges … but the woodlands remnants in the Melton area are few and far between.
“There are endangered animals in these tiny little islands [of forest]. Certainly, there will be more adverse consequences than benefits.”
Mr Akers conceded that foxes, rabbits and cats were a problem in the area, but said targeted pest removal would be much safer and more effective.
In March, Mr Akers wrote to Lisa Neville, who was state environment minister at the time, expressing his concerns about the project.
Ms Neville responded last month, acknowledging his concerns and assuring him the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning would consider the issues he had raised when assessing a permit application.
Australian Dingo Foundation owner Lyn Watson said she was disappointed that Mr Akers had not raised his concerns with her.
She disagreed that introducing dingoes into the Eynesbury forest would eradicate native wildlife.
“That forest is badly degraded and our idea is to return wildlife to the forest – not to, in any way, make it worse,” Ms Watson said.
“The project is another solution and it’s an innovative solution.”
Department environment and natural resources regional manager Merryn Kelly said the department had not yet received an application for the dingo proposal.
“In line with our commitment to protect and preserve Victoria’s biodiversity, we assess all permit applications on merit,” she said.