SYDNEY - Visitors to an Australian tourist hotspot have been advised to use umbrellas to protect themselves against dingo attacks, according to research.
Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, offers a "rare opportunity" to observe the native wild dogs, but the encounters can occasionally "entail dingoes acting in a threatening or aggressive manner toward people, resulting in human injury and, in one tragic case, death," according to a research paper published on Thursday in the Pacific Conservation Biology scientific journal.
Reviewing a wide range of measures to help manage wild animals, the researchers said moves to minimize harm from dingoes have included electric fencing and warning signs but "sturdy umbrellas" and "mild chemical irritant sprays" could also offer personal protection.
Australian dingoes, which feature prominently in native culture but are also viewed as a threat to livestock in some areas, are listed as a "vulnerable" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The medium-sized dogs have broad heads, pointed muzzles, and red or yellow coats, and are found across the country except Tasmania, according to government agency Tourism Australia.
Fraser Island, which boasts attractions such as "superb scenery" and humpback whales, is also home to "the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia", it said.
Citing instances of how an umbrella "rapidly opened in front of charging bears was sufficient to cause them to halt or retreat", the researchers said an "open, sturdy umbrella may also serve as a useful shield against a dingo making a very close approach" .
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