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Strong support for Feral Fighters

There's been strong support for the Feral Fighters program* being run by South East Local Land Services.

More than 700 landholders have signed up to take part in the program, which provides a regional approach to targeting feral animals.

The main benefit of registering is the opportunity of linking up with other landholders in you area to form control groups. Other benefits of registering for Feral Fighters include: free training at our specifically designed 1080/Pindone courses, up to 30 free wild dog/fox meat baits per holding and a laminated aerial map in A3 size of your property.

Group baiting

Many landholders are aware of the advantages of group baiting, in fact over 60 fox/wild dog group baits have already occurred so far this year. All the scientific information that has been published in recent times suggests the bigger the group the more successful the program.

Organising a group bait does however require a fair amount of effort. Biosecurity staff are eager to assist in the forming and coordination of group baiting. Please contact your local office if you have any enquiries.

Timing of Baiting

Studies of energy demands and reserves indicate that the most ideal time for fox baiting is the point where energy depletion turns to energy gain. Other studies suggest the optimum time for baiting is when a fox's diet is depleted or when there are changes in their behavioural patterns eg.(when foxes are breeding from June to August).

What many large scale programs have done in recent times is to use these recommendations and tailor it to the group's production systems. By this I mean organising it around other tasks that are on the schedule i.e., lambing and mustering for husbandry.

The "outfox the fox" control programme in NSW recommends baiting twice a year: Once in autumn when dispersal is greatest, and once in spring when females are breeding and under the greatest food stress.These times can be juggled into our calendar; it just needs to be planned.

Don't leave it until you see a fox carrying your lambs away before contemplating baiting – the horse has bolted. There is also plenty of evidence to show that baiting once a year just before lambing has little benefit. This is shown in the graph following.

This chart shows fox baiting once a year just before lambing has  little benefit 

Projection of a fox population subject to varying 1080 baiting control campaigns (bait density set at 10 baits/km²) Saunders and McLeod 2007

Repetition

Because of dispersal and reinvasion we need to continue to bait foxes year in and year out. Fox dispersal distances have shown to vary from 2-40+ km's. Saunders et.al 2002 observed a straight line dispersal distance of 300km's. Another individual was shot 260km's from site of capture only one month after being released.

Foxes are here to stay. There is no silver bullet. So for better fox control, talk to your neighbours about forming a fox baiting group.

Please contact your local office of the South East local Land Service for advice.

Chris Harris
Senior Biosecurity Officer
Yass
02 6118 7700
chris.harris@lls.nsw.gov.au


*Feral Fighters was adapted from a few other programs but principally evolved from "Feral Fox Fighters", designed by the Jerrawa Creek Landcare Group. It is also being run in other LLS regions.

**Those landholders whom attended the 1080/Pindone training course should contact your Local Land Services office to ensure your qualification remains current.