Foxes Invade Tasmania, Create "Environmental Emergency"

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Fox Hunt

Nick Mooney, a wildlife officer with Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries and Water, told one local radio station that it was possible the fox could have been born on the island.

"It's a long way away from ports of entry ... It's years past our reports of the original introductions. In fact, it'd have to be a doddering old-timer with a Zimmer frame [walker] to have made it that long," he said.

"It's very hard to avoid confronting that, yes, it's a fox that was bred here."

The recently discovered carcass, found on a road in the island's North Midlands area, is the fourth reported since 2001.

It had previously been believed there were no foxes on Tasmania.

The 2001 find prompted the creation of the Fox Free Taskforce, which had spent several years investigating whether or not foxes were infiltrating the island.

In June of this year a national research body, the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Center, confirmed the presence of foxes on the island.

Federal and state governments are now promising millions of dollars in funding to try and identify how the foxes came to the island and how to get rid of them.

The Fox Free Taskforce has now been reestablished, and the Tasmanian State Government is calling for volunteers from recreation, environment, and farming groups to immediately report any sightings of foxes.

"The community really has to make up its mind where it wants to go on this," Mooney said. "Does it want to slip into the style of [the Australian state of] Victoria and end up spending millions every year controlling impacts of foxes, or does it want to keep Tasmania special?

"If you were a landscape gardener and you wanted to make fox country, this is it. It has got wetland, it's got dry forest full of rabbits, bettongs, bandicoots, and there's lots of roadkill and sheep farming."

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