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*** OLD *** - Suzy Balogh's view - a foxy new website

Expert advice - How the community can utilise FoxScan.

Suzy Balogh, Athens Olympic gold medallist trap shooter and pest control adviser recently spoke about the benefits of FoxScan at the NSW Vertebrate Pest Management training course in Orange, NSW. Suzy is an advocate for the FoxScan ‘citizen science’ website and is keen to see how well it is used by producers to reduce fox damage.

Pictured: Suzy Balogh in Orange for the launch of FoxScan. Photo by Steve Gosch
“FoxScan is one of those fabulous tools that is designed for the individual land manager yet can also be applied by community groups. An individual producer or group can enter where they see foxes, what damage foxes are causing them, what control techniques they have applied and ultimately see how effective their management program is”.
“None of this technology was available when I first started as an Advisory Officer in pest animal management after completing a rural science degree. At that time, I had developed a good grounding in the theory of fox control and the strategic principles of pest animal management, and I wanted to put this all to the test. I quickly learnt that pest animals have an extensive and varying impact on primary production and the environment; particularly the fox, because it is a cunning and opportunistic predator”.
“When advising both public and private land managers about pest management, I always emphasise the need to ‘know thy enemy’ – and for best results, to target the species when it is most vulnerable, and when control efforts will be most efficient. We also promote landholders to coordinate fox control with their neighbours and to bait twice a year. The reasoning for this is to maximise the area of fox control, and to target foxes when they are most vulnerable. Fox control in autumn targets juvenile foxes when they aren’t very ‘street smart’, and when they are hungry and dispersing to establish a territory of their own. Baiting in late winter or early spring interrupts the mating season and breeding. Fox control should occur twice a year to coincide with these times”.

“A few years ago, I was fortunate to have had the chance to make a real difference with the fox problem. I teamed up with Rangers from the NSW Central West Livestock Health and Pest Authority and formally organised a fox baiting program called OUTFOX THE FOX. The project looked at existing fox baiting activities and the benefits to landholders from controlling foxes with their neighbours. Initially there was a dramatic increase in the number of participants and also the number of baits laid. Over time fewer baits were needed per property to achieve desired outcomes and the cost effectiveness of group baiting became very evident”.

“Since that work, Lynette McLeod [Industry & Investment NSW] conducted important research that looked at fox baiting in the Central West of NSW which covered 20% of the NSW sheep flock and an area of greater than 4.5 million hectares. The research showed that when farmers participated in group baiting with immediate neighbours, especially those up to 2.5km away, lamb survival rates increased. In fact, with broad scale group fox baiting, an increase of 20% in lamb survival rates could be achieved”. [see Experts recommend group fox baiting]. If one landholder controls foxes on their own, they may see a short period of relief from fox predation on lambs – but if working together, the area and period of protection from the risk of foxes is extended”.

“FoxScan supports on ground activities in real time by empowering landholders with their own mapping tool, and helps both public and private land managers to establish and monitor how their fox management program is going. FoxScan is a resource for local groups to use. The website also contains many useful links to information on fox control and management techniques, as well as information on possible funding support. I am amazed how technology has evolved in recent years to a point where a landholder can now plot fox sightings, fox damage and control in their paddock using the FoxScan website”.

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