Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Fox Baiting in Tasmania: What’s at Risk?

By Matthew Marrison

With careful attention to the science and planning, targeting foxes in a wildlife-rich environment can be a success.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

It’s first light in Tasmania, and across the island thousands of native animals are returning to daytime refuges following a night feeding in pastures and paddocks surrounding cities and towns. These fragmented landscapes, where agricultural land mixes with tendrils of remnant bushland, are rich in resources and attract a wide variety of native wildlife, often to the displeasure of farmers trying to protect crops from hungry wallabies and residents trying to sleep while unruly possums raid rubbish bins.

Such landscapes are also ideal habitat for foxes.

As some native animals return home they pass a small mound of disturbed earth above which distinctive pink flagging tape hangs from a nearby tree or fence post. On rare occasions an animal may pass two or three such mounds if they are travelling a particularly long way.

These mounds are the strategically sited bait stations from Tasmania’s fox eradication program. Each contains a single buried, meat-based bait that is lethal to foxes.

Most native animals will pass by these bait stations without any interest, but a few may pause for a moment to investigate the disturbed earth or the unusual smell. But at what risk?

Very little, according to the results of various studies. This answer might surprise many people, especially if their exposure to the issue is from the media and the frequent but...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

This article is reproduced from ISSUES magazine's edition on Animal Welfare (www.issuesmagazine.com.au).