Road kill carcass starts new fox hunt

ON THE TRAIL: Fox Free Task Force field officer Shane Malcolm and Specs the sniffer dog work around the penguin viewing area at Lillico Beach yesterday.Hairs from a badly decomposed carcass, found near Devonport on February 6, have been declared as from a fox, but DNA test results are still a week away.
Nanjing Night Net

The carcass, found next to the Bass Highway near Lillico, is believed to be that of a four-month old fox, which has sparked fears that foxes have started to breed in Tasmania.

The Fox Task Force has begun to search Lillico, a hot spot for fox sightings, for further signs of foxes such as hairs, scats or a den.

John Whittington, who oversees the task force, said that foxes would be catastrophic for Tasmania’s unique biodiversity and agriculture sector.

“The stakes are very high,” he said.

“But it’s a little like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

A sharp-eyed cyclist from the mainland first spotted the carcass on Christmas Day last year, but thinking foxes were already established in Tasmania, did not report the find.

Months later, back home in the ACT, she told some colleagues about the dead fox and learned of its significance.

She told the task force soon after, and members were able to find the carcass, by then little more than an unrecognisable bundle of fur and some bones, a few weeks ago.

Bone fragments, hair and skin have been sent to the mainland for DNA tests, which should be completed in a week.

Fox sightings can be reported to the 24-hour fox hotline on 1300369688.

NUMBER OF SIGHTINGS:

2002:……….336

2003:………. 228

2004:……….103

2005:………. 123

STATE’S FOX MILESTONES

February 2006: A carcass believed to be a juvenile fox is found near the Bass Highway at Lillico. September 2005: A scat collected from the Conara area in February is confirmed by independent laboratory analysis as that of a fox.

May 2004: A Triabunna property owner is convinced that he shot a fox at close range. The fox is thought to have gone to ground but later tests on the animal’s blood prove it was not a fox.

October 2003: A dead fox is found on the Bass Highway at Burnie.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.