Influence of dingoes on sheep distribution in Australia


Corresponding author: Robert Wicks Pest Animal Research Centre, Biosecurity QLD, Tor Street, Toowoomba 4350, Queensland, Australia;



To describe the influence of the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) on the past, present and future distributions of sheep in Australia.


The role of the dingo in the rise and fall of sheep numbers is reviewed, revised data are provided on the present distribution and density of sheep and dingoes, and historical patterns of sheep distribution are used to explore the future of rangeland sheep grazing.


Dingoes are a critical causal factor in the distribution of sheep at the national, regional and local levels. Dingo predation contributed substantially to the historical contraction of the sheep industry to its present-day distribution, which is almost exclusively confined to areas within fenced dingo exclusion zones. Dingo populations and/or their influence are now present and increasing in all sheep production zones of Australia, inclusive of areas that were once ‘dingo free’.


Rangeland production of wool and sheep meat is predicted to disappear within 30–40 years if the present rate of contraction of the industry continues unabated. Understanding the influence of dingoes on sheep production may help refine disease response strategies and help predict the future distribution of sheep and their diseases.