News

Campaign to outfox the wily feral killing turtles

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October 04, 2017

The North Central Catchment Management Authority has declared war on foxes to protect turtles in the Gunbower Forrest.

THE North Central Catchment Management Authority is declaring a war on foxes in the coming months and they want the community’s help to do it.

Starting from October 9, an intensive fox baiting program will begin in Gunbower Forest, the most intensive baiting program the region has seen.

Bait stations will be laid every 200m, and refreshed for 10 weeks.

North Central CMA acting project manager Amy Russell said the aim of the baiting program is to protect the area’s Murray River turtle population.

“Only one per cent of juvenile turtles survive, due mostly to predation by foxes,” she said.

“Foxes can sniff out nests, and attack hatchlings when they start to move from the nest to the water. We have even seen evidence of foxes attacking adult turtles.

“The breeding season of Murray River and eastern long-neck turtles is just around the corner, so we want to get fox numbers in the area down as much as we can, to give juveniles the best chance of survival.

“We are working with the Federal Government’s National Landcare Program the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, researchers from The University of Western Sydney and Charles Sturt University, Turtles Australia and local contractors to chemically bait and monitor the forest as we have never done before.

“Other non-lethal control methods continue to be trialled and improved, to be used in conjunction with intensive baiting programs.”

Ms Russell said it is important visitors to the forest keep their dogs on leashes from now until at least December 15, when any remaining poisonous baits will be removed.

“Dogs are still permitted in these sections of the forest, but the last thing anyone wants is someone’s pet to eat one of the baits,” she said. “These baits can be harmful to domestic dogs, so it’s really important visitors obey the signs and either keep their dogs on a lead or muzzled.

“Signs will be placed prominently in the area, including at the entrances to the forest. If everything goes to plan, we will only need to bait this intensively every three or four years.”

Ms Russell urged anyone in the area to keep an eye out for turtles.

“Community input is vital to assist in building knowledge and monitoring the success of turtle breeding,” she said.

“If you see a turtle, or evidence of nest predation you can record the sighting by downloading the TurtleSAT App, or by visiting turtlesat.org.au.’’

The baiting project is supported by the North Central CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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