Foxes in Tasmania - A Grave Threat to Our Wildlife
Foxes are implicated in the decline or extinction of over 20 native animals in Australia. Indeed, Australia's appalling record of mammal extinctions in the last 200 years - the worst in the world - is in no small part due to the fox.
Unfortunately, physical evidence indicates that there is a population of foxes of unknown size in Tasmania.
It is estimated that at least 78 native vertebrate species would be at risk if foxes became established. Of these, 34 species have locally restricted ranges, 16 are suspected to be already declining in distribution and 12 species are threatened according to Commonwealth or State threatened species legislation. This list does not include invertebrate species, many of which would also be at risk of fox predation.
Threatened and high conservation significance species at risk would include:
More widespread species like ducks, shorebirds, ground nesting birds, blue tongue lizards, mountain dragons, skinks and frogs are all highly at risk. Even animals such as the little penguin and platypus are at risk. Additionally, foxes are carriers of disease and spread environmental weeds.
The economic losses of livestock from fox attacks and expenditure for fox control measures would equate to many millions of dollars per annum in Tasmania’s sheep industry alone.
In Europe, the fox is the main carrier of rabies. Should rabies ever be introduced into Australia, foxes would likely be the main agent of its spread.
A national research and management effort is underway to investigate and trial biological and other forms of eradication. To date, there is no evidence that control measures have met with success in limiting the distribution or abundance of the fox. Introduced to mainland Australia in the 1850's, it is now widespread across every state except for tropical areas in the far north.
Australia's wildlife has not evolved in the presence of foxes, and therefore lacks adequate adaptations to cope with the predatory prowess of the fox. In Victoria, for example, the fox has established itself in all terrestrial environments from inner urban areas to alpine heaths, rainforests to coastal heaths and mallee. It is known to have directly caused the extinction of six mammals and is currently causing the near extinction of the:
Contact: Invasive Species EnquiriesInvasive Species Branch
171 Westbury Road
PROSPECT TAS 7250
Phone: 03 6336 5320
Fax: 03 6336 5453
Media enquiries should be directed to 03 6233 6340.
Report all fox sightings and any possible evidence of fox activity to 1300 FOX OUT (1300 369 688)
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