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.
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.