Outfoxing predators at Goonoo
A RECENTLY killed lamb lay on the verandah outside the meeting room of the Goonoo Fox Baiting Group, an example of the damage the feral animal can cause to sheep flocks.
The group has run for the past 10 years involving the 9090 hectares of Goonoo National Park and neighbouring properties.
Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) rangers Rhett Robinson and Jason Gavenlock ran the meeting with co-ordinating farmers and other representatives focused on the upcoming July bait season targeting pregnant vixens.
Both rangers emphasised the importance of not just sheep farmers but everyone on the land becoming involved in the effort to reduce fox numbers as the program aims to protect the threatened Malleefowl as well as minimise the impact foxes have on lamb numbers.
It was noted in the meeting that there have been increased sightings of the Malleefowl throughout the past six years.
Funding remains a need for the group as they spend about $6000 a year on the thousands of baits distributed to farmers for free.
"When there are no baiting programs a farmer could loose 15 per cent of his lambing percentage," Mr Robinson said.
Technology has become an ally in the fight against foxes with 100 cameras stationed every five kilometres across the targeted landscape monitoring both baited and non-baited land.
According to 2011 figures, much larger numbers of foxes were recorded on non-baited land with a further decrease in fox numbers after the March and July baiting seasons also noted.
During the meeting Department of Primary Industry's research officer Andrew Bengsen said funding from the Commonwealth had been recently been given for a GPS collar program in the region.
"Basically we are just trying to have a look at the resilience of fox populations to try and co-ordinate a baiting program," he said.
There will be 20 foxes captured for the research project, released and monitored with GPS collars over several weeks.