Fox bounty fall­ing short

Since the fox bounty was in­tro­duced in Vic­to­ria in Oc­to­ber 2011 more than 550 000 fox scalps have been sub­mit­ted, but the 2016–17 re­turns have been much lower than av­er­age.

Field and Game - - FOX BOUNTY FALLING SHORT -

Vic­to­rian Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment biose­cu­rity man­ager for estab­lished in­va­sive an­i­mals John Matthews said cu­mu­la­tive bounty fig­ures show that 69 663 en­tire fox scalps have been sub­mit­ted for bounty re­ward.

“It is likely that the to­tal num­ber of en­tire fox scalps pre­sented this fi­nan­cial year will be lower than the 105 000 longterm av­er­age,” he said.

Mr Matthews said the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of fox scalps being sub­mit­ted for re­ward could be at­trib­uted to sea­sonal con­di­tions, which has seen ex­tended wet and warm pe­ri­ods over much of the state, lead­ing to re­duced hunt­ing ef­fort. “Farm­ers have been redi­rect­ing their ef­forts to on-farm ac­tiv­i­ties due to favourable con­di­tions, a bumper grow­ing sea­son with har­vest­ing and sow­ing oc­cu­py­ing much of their time,” Mr Matthews said, “The ex­tended wet spring may have re­sulted in less favourable con­di­tions and af­fected ac­cess for hunt­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.”

His­tor­i­cally there are spikes and vari­a­tions to col­lec­tions, participation rates and sub­scrip­tions to the bounty.

Mr Matthews said these spikes were highly vari­able and usu­ally in­flu­enced by when hunters chose con­ve­nient pe­ri­ods to sub­scribe to the bounty, know­ing that bounty col­lec­tions are sched­uled be­tween March and Oc­to­ber each year. “Some hunters choose to sub­mit ac­cept­able body parts more fre­quently through­out the collection pe­riod whilst oth­ers pre­fer to stock­pile en­tire fox scalps and make an­nual con­tri­bu­tions at a time con­ve­nient to them­selves,” he said.

For the many Field & Game branches plan­ning fox drives the good news is that the lower bounty re­turns are not re­flec­tive of fox num­bers.

The pop­u­la­tion of foxes in Vic­to­ria was es­ti­mated to be greater than 1 mil­lion with com­mon den­si­ties in tem­per­ate graz­ing ar­eas to range be­tween one and four an­i­mals per square kilo­me­tre with urban den­si­ties es­ti­mated be­tween three and 16 an­i­mals per square kilo­me­tre.

The high­est den­si­ties oc­cur fol­low­ing the emer­gence of cubs from dens gen­er­ally be­tween Novem­ber and December and the low­est den­si­ties oc­cur prior to mat­ing and breed­ing from June to Sep­tem­ber.

All Vic­to­rian res­i­dents and land­hold­ers are el­i­gi­ble to sub­mit ac­cept­able en­tire fox scalps at sched­uled collection cen­tres. The pro­gram re­wards el­i­gi­ble Vic­to­rian hunters with a $10 bounty re­ward for each fox killed, and $120 bounty for each wild dog killed, sub­ject to the Vic­to­rian Fox and Wild Dog Bounty terms and con­di­tions.

Times, dates and ad­dresses for each sched­uled collection cen­tre are de­tailed in the Collection Sched­ule or by con­tact­ing the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Cen­tre on 136 186 or at www. agri­cul­ture.vic.gov.au “Hunt­ing can play a role in sup­port­ing an in­te­grated man­age­ment ap­proach and hunter ef­fort now will sup­port land­hold­ers and re­duce the im­pact and threat that foxes pose dur­ing lamb­ing and also mit­i­gate the im­pact of pre­da­tion to crit­i­cal weight range at risk na­tive an­i­mals and birds,” Mr Matthews said.

photographs; Sean Pas­sarin

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