A landscape-scale fox control project is seeing a decline in the pest’s numbers on public land in the state’s far south-west.
Glenelg Ark was established in 2005 to support the recovery of native mammal populations impacted by foxes through a broad-scale and continuous fox baiting program.
Forest Fire Management Victoria is delivering the project across 90,000 hectares of state forest and national park that is home to endangered species such as Long-nosed Potoroo and Southern Brown Bandicoot.
Glenelg Ark Project Officer Tom McKinnon said: “Within the project area, 70,000 hectares is baited, while 20,000 hectares remains untreated as a ‘control’ to provide a comparison.
“Each year, monitoring cameras are installed in both zones to help determine how Long-nosed Potoroo and Southern Brown Bandicoot populations are affected by foxes, and measure the effectiveness of baiting,” Mr McKinnon said.
“In the latest round of monitoring, 240 cameras were installed across the project area for a month.
“They captured around 180,000 images which are reviewed to determine which species are active within the project area.
“In the 13 years since the project was established, we’ve seen a significant decline in the amount of baits being taken by foxes, which is backed up by low detection rates through the camera monitoring on baited areas.
“This indicates fox numbers within the treatment management zone are declining, which in turn is helping strengthen Long-nosed Potoroo and Southern Brown Bandicoot numbers.
“Populations of other native species that are impacted by foxes, such as the Common Brushtail Possum, are also benefiting from the project.
“The cameras also returned some surprising finds, such as several Common Wombats photographed in the Lower Glenelg National Park, where they are not so common.
“Into the future, we’re hoping to broaden our understanding of the program’s conservation gains to additional threatened native species such as the Heath Mouse and Swamp Antechinus.
“We are also investigating opportunities for feral cat management alongside fox control, which will deliver further benefits for the rare and threatened species that call the far south-west home.”