The “beautiful dingo” which has excited tourists at Mount Buffalo has been labelled an aggressive wild dog.
Photographs of the animal taken by Adventure Guides Australia and visitors to the mountain were some of the first sightings out in the open.
It was thought to be a hybrid of Alpine dingo and wild dog, but Benambra MLA Bill Tilley disputed the claim.
“They’re wild dogs, they’re not dingoes,” he said.
“If you want to see an Alpine dingo, you have to go out of this region.”
Mr Tilley said DNA research conducted over many years showed dingoes were bred out of the wild dog population in Victoria.
He said it created a different animal – the inquisitive dingo had been replaced by dogs which regularly attacked sheep and cattle.
“Unfortunately these dogs are aggressive, it’s irresponsible hunters who have lost their dogs,” Mr Tilley said.
“That dog won’t be on its own, they will be in packs.”
He said he understood tourism operators enjoyed seeing the animal in the wild, but farmers had no option but to shoot or trap them.
The $100 Victorian government bounty for killing wild dogs ended on June 30 last year, which Mr Tilley said was disappointing.
Victorian Farmers Federation praised a Coalition commitment before the election to spend $20 million over five years on wild dog and other pest control programs.
Adventure Guides Australia owner David Chitty previously told The Border Mail Mount Buffalo’s dingoes were not pests and had adapted well to the Alpine environment without danger to the public.
Although this was the first year they had been seen, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning acting wild dog program manager Barry Davies said it was not unusual.
“Wild dogs/dingoes usually stay clear of human activity, however they can become acclimatised to humans and seek food and scraps if they are fed,” he said.
“Depending on conditions, it is quite common for wild dogs/dingoes to move out of the high country during winter.”
Jackie Jessulat, from the Mornington Peninsula, was visiting Mount Buffalo with her children Lachlan and Lily last week when they also spotted the snow dog they believed was a dingo.
“They knew a sighting like that was so rare, we were so privileged,” she said.
“My kids were just really excited and it was a highlight of our trip.”
It sat still as they stopped by the side of the road, near the chalet turn-off.
“It ending up sitting in the snow, what a beautiful sight it was,” Ms Jessulat said.
“We took two pictures and the markings on its face were gorgeous.”