You bet there are ... and there could be one in your backyard right now!
Think I’m kidding? Go have a look.
Frankly, I’d rather be writing that I’d seen Elvis, a thylacine or a UFO but at the risk of being laughed at, yes, I saw a fox here in Tasmania.
Clear as day. In broad daylight. Right next to a suburban main road just south of Hobart.
I should know one when I see one. I used to shoot them on my uncle’s sugarcane farm in Queensland.
There’s no mistaking the colour of the fur and shape of the head and body.
If you reckon foxes are always shy creatures that avoid people, daylight and traffic, think again.
Apart from the one I saw next to Algona Rd in Kingston in early August, the last one I saw was on a traffic island in the middle of a freeway in Perth, WA, about four years ago.
And wasn’t Melbourne’s bustling Webb Dock the departure point for south-bound foxes? So much for being scared of noise and machinery.
But if you do see one, don’t expect any quick action from the public-pursed pursuers charged with eradicating the pests.
It was once called the Fox Taskforce, until indisputable proof showed the cunning beasties were indeed in the state and needed eradicating.
But a change of name and a change of focus — from trying to prove foxes existed in Tasmania to actually doing something about it — has done nothing to lessen the risk to the state’s farmers, wildlife, economy and reputation.
So it was with great excitement that when my partner and I clearly saw a fox in Kingston, on its way into the renowned Peter Murrell Conservation Area for a feast on protected species, we immediately rang the special hotline, 1300 369 688.
We were told there were Fox Eradication Program searchers at nearby Snug, just 10 minute’s away.
Bring on the blood hounds, I thought.
Act quickly. The little red devil wouldn’t be far away at all by the time they got here.
Wow! What a chance for our high-cost bounty hunters to actually catch their first fox after years of trying.
After all, there had already been 158 reported sightings this year up to August and nearly 50 of them were deemed to be extremely credible.
But alas, a week later and I still hadn’t been contacted by a fox program representative and the ensuing rain and wind had certainly ruined any paw prints or other evidence.
A week later and nothing? Oh, to be so lucky!
The same week, Mercury reported program spokesmen as saying the most recent sightings would be investigated ``in coming weeks’‘.
No, not a week. Weeks. Plural. Months maybe.
What’s the use!
Even when the Mercury contacted the program’s southern staff a few days later to inquire about the Kingston sighting that my partner reported to central command four days earlier, they had still not been told about it.
With so many reported sightings, why isn’t there an instant response team ready to dash into action.
Who ya’ gonna’ call? Fox Busters!
Forget it. That would be too sensible and may even be a realistic way of spending some of that $28 million.
So there you have it.
An eradication program that lags weeks behind its prey and eons behind in commonsense.
Brandt Teale is Hobart journalist.
Believe me, the Fox Eradication Program is an expensive joke.
Personal experience in early August has proved Tassie taxpayers may as well flush away the $28 million they’re expected to pay during the next 10 years for a poorly co-ordinated waste of time.
It’s not that there aren’t any foxes …