Archive for May 9, 2014

australian red ffox00025jim truscott70.0-200.0 mm
Australian Red Fox
Photo by Jim (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimspic/)

Amazing story in the Times newspaper yesterday about Foxes in Tasmania. The Island state is proud of its natural history and had observed how introduced foxes had devastated many species on the mainland. In 2001 a report was made to the government that a group of hunters had introduced around 20 animals onto the island and released them. The government responded by launching a massive action plan to eradicate the species before it could become established. This included gathering teams of fox hunters, putting down large quantities of poison and urging all the island’s population to look out for the animals. Between 2001 and 2012 over 3000 sightings were reported and over 10000 animal droppings were examined to see where the foxes were living. But there was a problem – In 11 years only 4 fox carcasses were recovered and two of these were road kills. None had been poisoned by the bait laid down by government agents and none had been shot by a government hunting team.

Now a scientific panel has concluded that it was all a hoax. Only one sighting, 16 years ago, of a single animal jumping from a ship has been verified and one animal does not a breeding population make. It has concluded that no evidence has been found for fox activity on the island and that the 4 dead animals were imported onto the island. One can only guess the motive behind this?

It would be a funny story if not for the fact that all of this has cost the taxpayers of Tasmania A$50 million (£27 million)! The government has now suspended all activities related to Fox eradication.