Monitoring fox populations on the Gippsland Lakes

Trust for Nature has received funding from the Victorian State Government for the Gippsland Lakes to implement a landscape fox control program to protect waterbird populations. This will be undertaken through a combination of control methods across freehold and public land around the Blond Bay area.

As part of this project, monitoring will be undertaken to evaluate the impact on the fox population.  This includes pre and post control fox surveys to monitor any detectable changes in fox population.

The pre-fox control survey was completed in April with a team of Trust for Nature staff, community volunteers, Australian Deer Association members and works crew from Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC). This survey will provide valuable base line information.

The survey was conducted over three zones, within Blond Bay State Game Reserve where fortnightly baiting will occur; surrounding farmland where a fox bounty and incentives will assist landholders to undertake fox control and a zone just outside of the project area where there is no additional baiting or incentives and landholders continue with their normal fox control works.

A post fox control survey will be undertaken next year and the data will be compared to evaluate the effectiveness of the control program.

Landholder incentives for fox control within the project area are now available through East Gippsland Landcare Network which includes a fox bounty, reimbursement for baiting and free baits.

Fox baiting within Blond Bay State Game Reserve will begin on June 30th with baits replaced every fortnight.

Free dog muzzles are available through East Gippsland Landcare Network for landholders and community members that live around or visit Blond Bay state Game Reserve.

Threatened birds that will be benefit from reduced fox predation are Latham’s Snipe and Greenshank and more common waterbirds such as the White-faced Heron, Chestnut Teal, Black-winged Stilt and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The economic impact of foxes in Australia has been estimated at around $227.5 million per annum. This includes $17.5 million in sheep production losses, $190 million in environmental impacts, $16 million in management costs and $4 million in research costs.  Any large-scale reduction in fox densities could generate significant environmental and economic benefit.