A STATEWIDE fox baiting blitz begins in the South on Monday, but there will be gaps in its coverage.
Some farmers have refused to assist in the program, fearing it will kill dogs and wildlife.
The five-year program will involve laying 1080 baits, buried in meat about 5cm-10cm underground, across almost half of Tasmania’s land mass.
The blitz begins in Southport and will move up the Huon and Channel region before heading north until all 3,000,000ha of core fox habitat over farms, woodlands and grasslands have been baited.
However, 50 of the 400 property owners in the path of the initial campaign in the South have not given the fox eradication taskforce permission to lay baits on their land.
Fox taskforce spokesman Alan Johnston said some landowners may not have responded to the request for access, while others had concerns over the baiting program, particularly in relation to the safety of dogs and wildlife.
“We have structured a targeted program with little risk to wildlife,” Mr Johnston said.
There remains scepticism in the community that foxes have infiltrated Tasmania.
Mr Johnston said he could not guarantee that carcasses of dead foxes would be found after the baiting program.
“While I cannot say with any certainty that we will have a carcass up to show the community at the end, that is not the aim of the campaign,” Mr Johnston said. “We are trying to eradicate foxes. A carcass might be a bonus but it’s not the end aim of the exercise.”
The mass baiting campaign was prompted by evidence collected last year that indicated fox activity in Geeveston, Cygnet, Bushy Park, Campania and Murdunna.
The taskforce said this evidence included sightings, dead foxes, scats, footprints, blood and a skull.
The state and federal governments have spent $36 million trying to eradicate foxes in Tasmania but a live fox has never been trapped in the state.
An independent review of the fox eradication program last year found the evidence foxes were in Tasmania was “unequivocal” and recommended baiting all core fox habitat.
Veterinary pathologist David Obendorf said …
“Regrettably, on both counts, Tasmania’s human efforts at eradicating foxes are ineffective and are destined to remain so for the foreseeable future.
“We should be putting more effort into preserving the Tasmanian devil in the landscape. It’s our number-one effective tool against the fox and they carry out the task for nothing.”