Image for Hunt for fox proof ‘ends’

THE head of Tasmania’s multi-million-dollar fox eradication team says searching for evidence of foxes in the state is no longer necessary as their presence has been proved.

Fox Eradication Taskforce manager Craig Elliott said yesterday his team was instead focused on preventing foxes making a permanent home in the state.

Upper House member for Windermere and long-time taskforce critic Ivan Dean told the Mercury yesterday evidence of foxes in the state was questionable.

Mr Dean said the taskforce, which has cost $27.7 million in its 10 years of existence, should be combined with a taskforce to eradicate other pest problems, like feral cats.

Mr Elliott said external reviews into the fox taskforce had shown there was evidence of foxes in the state. He said searching for fox scats stopped being a priority last year. The focus was now on eradicating them.

The taskforce will continue the rollout of baits, containing the controversial 1080 poison, across southern and north-western Tasmania in coming months.

In the South, the baiting program is set to target areas in the Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and in Kingborough in coming months.

Mr Elliott said the taskforce received a couple of calls a week about foxes behind the baiting lines but had not found any evidence of foxes since the baiting program started, in mid-2010 in the south of the state and late 2010 in the North-West.

“The fact that we are not finding evidence is a positive thing,” Mr Elliott said.

Full Mercury story HERE

• Meanwhile on Macquarie Island ...

Rain ruins island’s rat bait
Posted Thu May 26, 2011 12:46pm AEST

It has been revealed about $750,000 dollars worth of rodent bait has gone to waste on Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic.

The $25 million project to eradicate feral pests on the island was put on hold last year because of poor weather.

Tasmanian Environment Minister Brian Wightman says most of the bait that was stored in pods around the island was ruined by torrential rain.

He says parks staff were not sure how much of the bait would be useable and extra was taken to complete the baiting project this winter.

“There have been weather events that’ve led to the delay in the process and the procedures down at Macquarie Island,” he said.

“We sent some additional bait down to assist and to ensure there is an eradication of rabbits, rats and mice and the like.”

Calicivirus was released on the island in February to help with the rabbit cull.