PROSECUTED photographer Jennifer Parkhurst has vowed she will never feed a dingo again.
Parkhurst said she started feeding dingoes at the insistence of her ex-boyfriend Adam Randall after she saw several dingo pups die of starvation.
“I never fed dingoes prior to my association with Adam Randall and I didn't feed them after,” Parkhurst said.
“I'm very remorseful. Those dingoes were killed.”
Parkhurst was fined $40,000 for feeding and playing with dingoes on Fraser Island in 2008 and 2009.
Her supporters have described the fine as “excessive” and have set up a fighting fund to help pay off the debt.
Defence barrister Kristy Crabb represented 43-year-old Parkhurst in Maryborough Magistrates Court.
Parkhurst pleaded guilty to 46 charges of feeding and interfering with the animals and was sentenced to a nine month wholly suspended jail term in addition to the fine.
“It is certainly excessive,” Ms Crabb said.
“The fines imposed were well in excess of what the prosecution and defence submitted as being appropriate, so it came as a bit of a shock to us.
“Given Ms Parkhurst's financial position it is going to be a hardship for her.”
National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (NDPRP) president Dr Ian Gunn said the result was disappointing.
“It could have been resolved in a more conciliatory manner,” he said. “The NDPRP certainly hopes the prosecution of Ms Parkhurst has not been in retaliation for her criticism of the Queensland Government's mismanagement of the dingo population on Fraser Island.”
Karin Kilpatrick from Save the Fraser Island Dingoes Inc. agreed the penalty was harsh but said she was “very happy” that Ms Parkhurst didn't get sent to jail.
“Ever since the dingoes' food sources were taken away there have been problems, because they are hungry and go begging.
“The doctor who examined Clinton Gage said this was an attack by a hungry animal.
“The dingo management strategy is flawed. It needs to be improved upon, but the Government won't sit down and work with us.
“We don't advocate hand feeding dingoes – we want them to be able to find their own food.
“A wildlife study needs to be done on the island and if there's no wildlife, let's get an emergency plan going with the rangers to do food drops or something.”
Parkhurst had about 30 people supporting her during sentencing on Wednesday.
Butchulla elder Aunty Marie Wilkinson said having to go through the drama of a court case was “an insult to the lady”.
“She was only doing what our Aboriginal people would have done,” she said.
“I would have done what she'd done. Last time I was on Fraser Island the dingoes were pitiful and rangers had been hazing them.”
Cheryl Bryant was angry that DERM spent so much money prosecuting Parkhurst.
“They spent $150,000 on this case,” she said.
“It should have gone to the island where it's needed, not on prosecuting one person.”
Ron Corfield also described the fine as “very disappointing” and the court case as “a complete and utter waste of taxpayers' money.”
Sustainability Minister Kate Jones applauded the court's decision.
“This is a significant sentence and should act as a warning to others to respect the laws in place to protect Fraser Island,” she said.
Anyone interested in contributing to Parkhurst's fighting fund can find details on the Save Fraser Island Dingoes group on Facebook.
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