AFTER THE discovery of fox blood at Old Beach in May there was limited follow up activities by the Fox Taskforce and despite nearly a week of media, no additional evidence linking the spot of blood to an actual fox in the neighbourhood was found.

Last Tuesday a fresh, still warm fox carcass with injuries consistent with being run over by a car tyre was found in the Midlands. Two farmers phoned the Fox hotline on their mobile phone. Wildlife Management Manager, Gary Davies and Consultant Biologist to the FFTF, Nick Mooney arrived very shortly after their phone call.

The earliest photographic record (phone camera) of the dead fox is 9.30am and the animal was very fresh. Two and half days later a male person contacted DPIW claiming that he had knocked down this fox.

DPIW put out a press release late on Thursday stating the person claiming to have hit the animal stopped his vehicle, confirmed it was a fox but didn’t report it because he feared ridicule and cynicism. His identity remains anonymous.

Why are the critical Tasmanian fox incidents associated with anonymity of the primary sources?

The State Government’s line is that they fear intimidation, ridicule and speculation.

A recurring theme

This has been a recurring pattern. No person came forward claiming responsibility for hitting a fox on the highway at Burnie (October 2003); even the person that found & collected it would not go public.

Then there was the Canberra cyclist who saw — but did not report — a freshly dead fox on Christmas day 2005 on side of the Bass Highway at Lillico.

She has also remained anonymous.

Another person posted an article on Tasmanian Times under the pseudonym ‘Raspberry’; he stated that he and his wife also saw a dead ‘foxy-looking puppy’ by the highway at Lillico a week earlier than the interstate cyclist. When the fox was finally reported in early February 2006 (during the State election) the Taskforce confirmed that the dry squashed remains were those of a young fox. 

A search of the Lillico site — that included a penguin rookery and farmland — and the collection of many carnivore scats (faeces) failed to uncover additional evidence that foxes existed in this area.

In October 2003 the dead fox in Burnie was paraded as the clear proof that there were foxes in Tasmania but the fox-dog and handler were not brought onto the scene until far too late to recover any additional information. The Bass Strait ferry freight facility — the site where a fox escaped off a ferry in 1998 — was less than a kilometre away.

Now the Conara site is the latest incident deserving on-the-ground investigations using all effective resources to get the definite corroboration needed to link this fox find with the environment in which it was found.

Fox hoaxing has plagued this program from its inception, the recent fox review panel concedes this. The detection of fox hotspots is one thing; the failure to use all the effective tools and resources available to confirm and genuinely capitalise on these incidents is inexplicable.

Read more: David Obendorf

David Obendorf

Why are the critical Tasmanian fox incidents associated with anonymity of the primary sources? The State Government’s line is that they fear intimidation, ridicule and speculation. This has been a recurring pattern.