Image for Tasmania is eradicating its cryptic fox population. We’d scrap FEP, say Libs

According to retiring Leader of Government Business in the Legislative Council the strategy of ‘precautionary baiting’ is working a treat…the noose is closing from each end of the State on the last foxes.
Mr Doug Parkinson is much more convivial than his crusty predecessor Michael Aird. In answer to a question from MLC for Windermere, Mr Ivan Dean, Mr Parkinson courteously replied:

”...the last [fox] scat was found at Forth in 2010.  It is considered that continued searching for [fox] scats could be expected to locate further evidence but that the focus should be on fox eradication. With this in mind, the Fox Eradication Program is focusing its resources on implementation of a precautionary strategy in line with the recommendations of the independent external review undertaken in 2009.  Two baiting control fronts are now moving across the State targeting this major threat to our primary industries and biodiversity.  Monitoring is ongoing with a focus on areas behind the baiting control fronts.  A lack of new evidence behind the fronts to date provides the program with some confidence that there are no foxes established behind those lines.’ [Reference: Legislative Council Hansard 14 June, 2011]

In the Tasmanian Budget Papers for 2011-2012 the Fox Eradication Program is relegated to a single item in a DPIPE table and a footnote.

Progress in the eradication of foxes: Evidence of foxes established behind the precautionary baiting control front.

Table Footnote:  This is a new measure aimed at assessing the impact of the precautionary baiting control front established by the Fox Eradication Program in 2010. The baiting control front is determined on the basis of geography and habitat modelling and baiting occurs within that front. A new front is then established with new baits immediately beyond the first front and the previous baits removed. Over time, this rolling front will cover all areas where foxes are expected to be able to be established. Monitoring and surveillance then occurs behind the fronts to detect and destroy any surviving foxes or those that seek to re-establish. Evidence for the measure includes scats confirmed through DNA analysis and repeated credible sightings in an area. [Reference Budget Papers Part 2 Volume 2 Table 11.8 page 85-86] 

It appears that the lack of new evidence of foxes behind the ‘fronts’ augurs well for the eradication program to wrap up when the last of the Commonwealth money ($3.13 million) runs out in 2013.

Then Tasmania can celebrate - mission accomplished! We’ve all done very well.

• We’d scrap FEP, say Libs

Libs would disband fox force

  THE MERCURY   |  June 20, 2011 12.01am

TASMANIA’S controversial fox taskforce would be disbanded as a cost-cutting-measure under a Liberal government.

Liberal deputy leader Jeremy Rockliff revealed his party would create a new Biosecurity Tasmania division that would encompass the existing Fox Eradication Branch.

Cutting the taskforce, which costs about $3.1 million a year and has about 45 employees, is part of the Liberal’s alternative budget plan that aims to boost biosecurity and quarantine measures.

The Biosecurity Tasmania division would form part of the existing Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and would continue the statewide fox-baiting and monitoring activities, while using the experience of the taskforce in other areas.

Mr Rockliff said the party believed greater accountability of the funds invested in the fox program was needed.

He said it was illogical to pour millions into just one program, while leaving the state’s borders exposed to other possible pest incursions including fruit flies.

“I am not a fox sceptic—it is absolutely vital that we maintain a strong baiting program and monitoring,” he said.

“But it is time to really focus on utilising our resources in terms of biosecurity in a much sharper and holistic way.”

If further evidence of a fox population in Tasmania emerged then additional resources would be provided Mr Rockliff said.

Mercury HERE