Call for fox watchers


Caught on camera: The Western Port Biosphere is about to start monitoring the movements of foxes. Picture: Keith Platt

THE Western Port Biosphere organisation wants volunteer citizen scientists to help keep an eye on foxes.

The biosphere has been given a government grant for a two-year fox “monitoring and control” project in the northern coast area of Western Port.

“Our aim is to abate the predation pressure by foxes on stock, small native fauna and ground dwelling shore birds,” executive officer Cecelia Witton said.

“Photo-monitoring in the first year will assess the distribution and abundance of the red fox, which will determine the most effective areas to undertake control activities in the second year,” she said.

Ms Whitton said volunteer citizen scientists would be trained to ensure the success of the program.

“Landholders and community groups will be empowered to build pest monitoring and management into routine farm/land management,” she said.

“Volunteers from the broader community will be trained to assist landholders and to undertake fauna identification.”

The training would include using and maintaining motion-sensing cameras (supplied by the biosphere).

Up to four cameras may be positioned on a property depending on its size.

A workshop would be held to teach volunteers how to download photos from the cameras, identify fauna and record them on the Atlas of Living Australia.

Help would also be provided to a qualified fox control contractor in the second year.

“The extent of involvement will be tailored to suit individuals,” Ms Whitton said.

“In the long term, through coordination of biodiversity monitoring and fox control activities by citizen scientists, integrated with other stakeholder fox management, this project will contribute to a landscape scale map of all management activities, which will identify gaps in control, and determine the effectiveness of control techniques; predator/prey relationships and, the effectiveness of control activities on target species populations.”

To join the Western Port Biosphere’s fox control project email or call 5979 2167.

First published in the Western Port News – 13 March 2018


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