Fox control is benefiting biodiversity and lambing

News article |

Fox control is benefitting biodiversity and lambing

Fox scat samples collected on Southern Yorke Peninsula by Natural Resources Northern and Yorke have shown some positive signs for endangered species in the region.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Sustainable Landscapes team leader Ken Rudd says fox scat samples have been collected over the past three rounds of fox baiting on Southern Yorke Peninsula for analysis of their diet and to gauge the impact of foxes on endangered species.

Scat samples were sent to Victoria where they were analysed using a reference library to identify the components.

“One of the pleasing observations is that reptile scales, bird feathers, bird bones and egg shells are a minority of the foxes diet, showing that fox numbers are being kept low enough to not have a big impact on the endangered species being protected by the program,” he says.

“Foxes are scavengers and opportunistic hunters and will prey on whatever is available and easy to catch.

“When rabbit numbers are high, this forms a large part of their diet, same as mouse numbers. During lambing time it is sheep.

“Insects provide easy prey, and in February 2013, mouse and rabbit numbers were low, so insects formed a bigger part of their diet.”

Despite the promising results, fox baiting remains vital in the region and the Southern Yorke Peninsula Fox Baiting for Biodiversity Program, which began in 2007, continues to have an impact beneficial to biodiversity and landholders alike, with landholders also reporting increases in lambing percentages this year.

The baiting program sees 2800 baits laid at 690 permanent bait sites across an area of 35,000 hectares during a 10 week period.

“We run a coordinated group baiting in February each year so farmers across the Yorke Peninsula are doing a concentrated bait all at the same time,” Mr Rudd says.

“This coordinated approach coincides with lambing which commonly occurs in this region around March–April.

“Farmers are reporting this year that lambing percentages are up, and we attribute that to both the baiting program and also the fact that mice numbers on parts of Yorke Peninsula reached plague numbers in 2014 and were an easy feed for foxes.”

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke can help landholders plan their approach to pest plant and animal control by providing technical advice and support, information resources, and access to specialised equipment.

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