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Protecting waterbirds and mammals from foxes

Protecting waterbirds and critical weight mammals through landscape fox control in Gippsland Lakes

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Trust for Nature's Robyn Edwards and Brett Mills, leaders of the Landscape Fox Control Project

Trust for Nature has received funding from the Victorian Government for to implement a landscape fox control program to protect waterbird populations in the Gippsland Lakes. 

This is being undertaken through a combination of control methods across freehold and public land around the Blond Bay area, over 6,500 hectares. This current project builds on the success of the previous BandiLink project where fox control was undertaken over 15,000 hectares around the Perry River area in conjunction with Southern Ark, East Gippsland Landcare Network and farmers.

“Many waterbirds spend most of their time feeding on the ground and some species also nest on the ground. This means they are all highly susceptible to predation by foxes. ”

The outcomes of this project will be to reduce fox populations around key habitat areas, thereby reducing fox predation with an expected increase in waterbird populations.  

Other wildlife in the project area that will benefit from the reduction in fox numbers are Eastern Pygmy Possum and White–footed Dunnart; Lace Monitors (foxes eat baby goannas) and Emus (Emus lay their eggs on the ground) as well as a range of woodland birds such as the Diamond Firetail.

The economic impact of foxes in Australia has been estimated at around $227.5 million per annum. This includes $17.5 million in sheep production losses, $190 million in environmental impacts, $16 million in management costs and $4 million in research costs.  This project will contribute to a large-scale reduction in fox densities which will generate significant environmental and economic benefits.

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Chestnut Teals

This project covers 6,500 hectares protecting waterbirds, woodland birds and terrestrial fauna priority habitat areas: 25 kilometres of Gippsland Lakes frontage, six major wetlands, the lower reaches of Toms Creek and high quality coastal woodlands across private and public land. 

Trust for Nature in conjunction with Parks Victoria has established permanent bait stations across Blond Bay Wildlife Reserve and in conjunction with East Gippsland Landcare Network is delivering a community incentive program assisting farmers and landholders on the surrounding farmland to undertake regular fox control across their properties. 

As part of this project, monitoring will be undertaken to evaluate the impact on the fox population.  This includes pre- and post-control fox surveys. 

The pre-control survey was completed in April with a team of Trust for Nature staff, community volunteers, Australian Deer Association members and works crew from Gunaikurnai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation. This survey provides valuable baseline information with which to evaluate project impact on fox numbers.

Snapshot

Trust for Nature priority species covered:
Birds: Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia), Hooded Plover or Dotterel (Thinornis rubricollis). 
Reptiles: Lace Goanna (Varanus varius)

Other significant species:
White-footed Dunnart (Sminthopsis leucopus), Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus nanus) and Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

Ecosystems covered:
Estuarine Wetlands, Gippsland Lakes, Heathy Woodland and Damp-sands Woodland.

Regions:
East Gippsland

Geographic area of project:
Blond Bay, Gippsland Plains

Trust for Nature project contact:
Robyn Edwards

Project partners:

  • Parks Victoria
  • East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority
  • Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee
  • East Gippsland Landcare Network
  • DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Gunaikurnai Land & Water Aboriginal Corporation
  • Farmers, landholders, covenantors and community members

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