Dingoes are still suffering an identity crisis in Australia, scientists agree.
The most recent research says what many people think are dingoes are in fact wild dogs.
The distinction between a wild dog and dingo is legally important as dingoes are "protected" across many states and territories.
The issue was raised again after ABC-TV this week aired activists' footage of what was assumed to be dingoes being trapped and killed by the Victorian government's feral animal control program.
It has led Animals Australia to call on the government to immediately abandon the program for fear they are killing protected animals.
The controversial group accused farmers of blaming dingoes for sheep deaths when the deaths were in fact their own fault.
MORE READING: Why the lamb roast has disappeared from Sunday dinner.
Animals Australia claims dingoes "are the target of mass ground and aerial baiting with the controversial 1080 poison across hundreds of kilometres of their national park habitat each year to appease agricultural interests".
The group wants the government to first research how many dingoes remain in the wild.
The issue is particularly controversial in Victoria after a plan was devised to release dingoes into the Grampians National Park as a natural control method for introduced pests.
That plan has been opposed by many local residents and Victorian Farmers' Federation saying the risks to nearby livestock and already threatened fauna are far too great.
National Wild Dog Management coordinator Greg Mifsud said he was concerned the impact that dingo hybrids (wild dogs) will have on those sheep properties adjoining the Grampians National Park but also for sheep producers across the state.
"Dingoes are highly mobile, and we know from research they will not stay within the confines of the park. If they do escape, they could spread across the state using uncleared forest on private and public lands coming from the Grampians with devastating impacts for livestock producers across the region and the state," he said
There have been at least three published studies on dingoes in the past two years.
This latest research claims to have "cracked" the genetic code, according to senior author, Professor Bill Ballard from La Trobe University.
The role of dingoes has been debated for years - with some scientists believing they are genetically the same as feral wild dogs.
Recent science using DNA testing says they are not.
Prof. Ballard said a full genetic sequence of a wild-born, pure Australian Desert Dingo called Sandy Maliki - revealed pure dingoes are an "intermediary" between wolves and domestic dog breeds.
"If we're correct, what farmers currently assume are dingoes killing their stock, are likely to be feral wild dogs," Prof. Ballard said.
A study last year from UNSW examined 5000 genetic samples from wild dogs and found 99 per cent of the animals were either pure or mostly dingo.
Even more recently, a DNA examination of "wild dogs" killed in rural Queensland in the name of pest control were found to be pure dingo, not wild dog hybrids.
According to Animals Australia Animals Australia strategy director Lyn White only 1249 livestock were killed by predation in 2021-22 from 22 million livestock while 1376 dingoes were killed.
"Nearly all of the animals that are cruelly trapped and killed have been found to be pure-bred dingoes or dingo-dominant hybrids and not 'wild dogs'.," Ms White said.
"The term 'wild dogs' is a euphemism adopted to falsely smear a native species and make the government's widespread killing of dingoes more palatable to the public," she said.
Ms White accused graziers for blaming dingoes for lamb deaths caused by "farming issues and the practice of breeding for multiple births".