Latest update: 13 March 2012
Physical items collected since 1998 indicate fox activity in Tasmania. Genetic analysis of the evidence collected in Tasmania identifies at least 18 individual foxes in the sample, including male and female animals.
The accumulation of physical items and ongoing reports of fox activity from members of the public indicate foxes continue to be a real and serious threat to Tasmania's environment, agriculture and economy.Physical items indicating fox activity in Tasmania (collected since 1998):
Carcasses - 4
Skull - 1
Blood - 1
Footprints - 2
Fox-DNA positive scats - 61
No evidence of fox activity has been collected in Tasmania since July 2011 (see below), which is encouraging that fox eradication will be achieved. However, detecting foxes when they are in low numbers is very difficult and it is important that monitoring continue and the Tasmanian community remain alert for foxes and signs of their activity.
Searching for physical evidence of fox activity poses unique challenges in the unique Tasmanian landscape. Tasmania is an island of over 60,000 sq km that contains large areas of wilderness and other unpopulated areas. Foxes have a natural instinct to avoid threats - such as humans - and are wary, elusive and mobile in the landscape. Added to this is the fact Tasmania contains a unique and diverse native wildlife, including three native carnivores, and feral cats, all of which may leave very similar sign to foxes.
Given these factors, the likelihood of discovering evidence of fox activity in the landscape using conventional methods is very low.
It is impossible to accurately estimate the number of foxes that may be in Tasmania. From the physical items it might be as low as one fox per 500 km2. Research in other parts of the world shows that once foxes are at a density of one per 25 km2 they are nearly impossible to find; once at a density of one per 40 km2 the chances of finding them virtually collapse. This clearly illustrates the difficulties faced in locating physical evidence of fox activity in Tasmania.
March 2012: Fox positive scats confirmed from Burnie and Railton
Results received on Friday 9 March 2012 from the University of Canberra's Institute for Applied Ecology report that two (2) scats have tested positive for fox DNA.Burnie (1)
Scat collected on 13 July 2011 during strategic monitoring activities. A total of eight fox positive scats have now been confirmed from the Burnie area since 2002.Railton (1)
Scat collected near Railton on 14 June 2011 during investigations in the area in response to a fox sighting report received from a member of the public.
Nine other fox positive scats have been collected from within a 10 km radius of the current scats:
5 x fox positive scats from Spreyton: collected 7 May 2008, 23 June 2008 and 26 Feb 2010
2 x fox positive scats from Aberdeen: collected 23 Aug 2007 and 19 Mar 2008
2 x fox positive scats from Barrington: collected 7 May 2008 and 17 June 2008The latest physical evidence brings to 61 the total of fox positive scats collected in Tasmania since 2002.
View the Fox Evidence Updates for the period 2001 - 2011