Image for Fox: The Questions

They seek me here, they seek me there,
The Task Force seeks me everywhere,
I may be false, I may be true,
I’m that damned, elusive red fox-eroo

Having closely followed the fox debate from its now legendary beginnings in May, 1998, when the infamous ‘Burnie Fox’ reportedly hitched a ride from Melbourne to Burnie on a cargo ship, nobody could have foretold the inconceivable drama that would unfold in the hallowed pages of Tasmanian Times over coming years; a debate that has at times reached epic proportions and one that seemingly has no end.

The main players in this debate have provided a most interesting running commentary as personal opinions ebb and flow, in a torrent at times, on whether or not there are foxes roaming Tasmania.

Both this and the Pulp Mill debacle have dominated the ’comments’ section of Tasmanian Times feedback over recent years.

Allegations of rumour and innuendo persist; hoaxes and pranks, deliberate clandestine introductions, reckless cover-ups, disputed road kills along with cautious belief; they are all to be found in the archives of this site in what has, over recent years, evolved into a most fascinating dossier.

It is interesting to note that back in 2005, ‘comments’ on the fox topic were comparatively few compared to today, although opinions were, even then, much diversified despite a somewhat smaller pool of contributors.

I want to stress from the outset that I am in no way connected with the fox debate other than to be an interested onlooker. I do, of course, reserve my right to voice an opinion and to put across my views on this intriguing issue, which I have expressed from time to time in Tasmanian Times.

There are then, several questions that beg answers and they are:

• When will this marathon debate be finally put to rest?

• When will we have a completely transparent solution to this enduring puzzle?

• And more to the point, are there really foxes in Tasmania?

These are questions that beg intelligent answers.

There are clearly two diverse camps of opinion; the true believers and the out and out sceptics. The remainder comprise the middle ground with no unambiguous consensus of opinion.

Please understand that my following essay is merely hypothetical, based on flights of the imagination and bears no relevance to events current or future. Please presume it as you will.

Wind up of Fox Taskforce imminent

It was today announced in State Parliament that the Tasmanian Fox Eradication Task force will be officially wound up and disbanded on December 31st 20013. First instigated in 2001, the Fox Eradication Programme has had a bumpy ride with public opinion solidly divided on whether there are foxes in Tasmania. Many claim the expenditure amounting many millions of dollars to be a complete waste of public money, that the whole programme has been based on innuendo and vested interest. It remains to be seen if the move will be premature with fox sighting reports continuing to surface from many areas of the State.

Or will it turn out to be the following?

Fox Eradication Update, 2021:

A fox lair recently discovered in bush at Glenorchy contained a vixen and litter of five cubs. Numerous bones and carrion littering the site revealed native birds and marsupials having been killed to feed the young which were almost to the point of becoming independent. This is the third such discovery in the Glenorchy area over the past few weeks. Consistent reports of foxes roaming the confines of Tolosa Park continue with many water birds falling prey to their nocturnal predating.

Several recent sightings have emerged of foxes crossing the Brooker Highway at night in the vicinity of the Domain, a known fox habitat.

A dead vixen located on Macquarie Street adjacent to Franklin Square was found to be lactating, a subsequent search of the immediate vicinity initially failing to locate her litter which was later located in nearby St. David’s Park.

Many areas are reporting serious losses in native wildlife with the smaller varieties, particularly bandicoots and bettongs suffering notable decline.

Gould’s Lagoon at Austin’s Ferry is literally crawling with foxes, according to a local resident, with nesting birds under constant attack. The once healthy population had now been decimated almost to the point of total wipe out.

The north of the State has not escaped a rapid escalation in fox infiltration with several active lairs recently discovered in and around the Launceston area and in the Cataract Gorge.  Reports of serious fox predation and numerous lairs have recently been reported from as far afield as Scottsdale, Georgetown and Bridport.

The North West continues to be plundered by hoards of rampaging foxes and in several centres the local wildlife is under serious threat of annihilation. The Burnie and Smithton areas appear hardest hit with additional reported activity from as far away as Strahan, Marrawah and Arthur River.

Meanwhile, poultry in the East Coast township of St Helens has been ravaged by fox attack in recent weeks with dozens of individual predations reported on domestic flocks.

Persistent reports of widespread fox activity throughout the Derwent Valley have alarmed authorities and local farmers are demanding swift action. An interstate tourist has told of watching family of foxes scavenge from a rubbish bin at the Lake Dobson car park near the snowfields area of the Mt. Field. National Park.

Equally disturbing reports continue from Bream Creek on the Tasman Peninsula with rampant fox predation having been experienced on lambing ewes throughout the district. One grazier reported over half his newborn lambs had been killed by foxes ‘over several nights of wanton slaughter’. Oatlands farmers have also experienced escalating fox attacks of new born lambs on properties adjoining the Midland Highway.

The State Government is rumoured to be increasing its fox bounty payment from sixty to seventy five dollars, the third increase in the past two years. So far this year, a total of 1,346 fox scalps have been surrendered, up 15% on last year.

The Fox Eradication Task Force is calling for more government funding to enable its 160 strong squad of field officers to more adequately execute their duties, claiming that last year’s allocation of $70 million was insufficient to responsibly carry out proposed eradication measures.

Ridiculous, unbelievable nonsense you may be thinking. I sincerely hope for the sake of our unique native wildlife.

No one person can, at this point in time, say with any certainty that there are not foxes in Tasmania. Meanwhile the drama continues ...

Where do You stand on this issue? Will your opinion be vindicated or rebuked when the dust finally settles? This is a matter that concerns each and every one of us.