Hunters Cash In 874,000 Fox Scalps - Is It An Effective Control Method?
By the end of winter close to one million foxes will have been killed and a bounty collected in Australia's only government reward scheme of its type that has run for the last decade.
The fox scalps fetch a $10 bountry in Victoria however the bountry is being questioned for its effectiveness. "Foxes and wild dogs cannot be eradicated from Victoria; they are widespread and established requiring ongoing management by all land managers," is the official response from the Agriculture Department.
A Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the "control of invasive species on Crown Land" in 2017 recommended: "The government implement an ongoing evaluation program of the current wild dog and fox bounty systems which evaluates whether the bounties are providing value for money or whether the money would be more effectively spent on alternative invasive animal control methods."
"The Invasive Species Council and others have concluded that the fox bounty did not effectively reduce the impacts of foxes
as a pest species - rendering the public funds applied to the bounty scheme a dead loss to the public purse."
The Land reported "The economic impact of foxes in Australia has been estimated at around $227.5 million annually".
"More than 874,000 fox scalps and 3900 wild dog body parts have been collected in Victoria since the government introduced the fox and wild dog bounty in 2011".
"Even during last year's pandemic lockdowns when travel was difficult, 59,799 fox scalps and 417 wild dog body parts were collected from 1062 hunters".
"The bounty is an incentive program designed to encourage community participation in managing fox and wild dog populations," the department's spokeswoman said.
"The bounty contributes to an integrated management approach for fox and wild dog management."
This year's bounty scheme begins on Monday, March 1 and runs until the end of October.
Designated collection centres will operate across the state starting in the north-east at Benalla, Broadford, Ovens, Mansfield, Tatura and Wodonga.
Collections close each summer, when hunters are encouraged to collect fox scalps and wild dog body parts on their properties, and to freeze or air dry them.
Agriculture Victoria biosecurity manager Jason Wishart said people could submit entire fox scalps for a $10 reward and entire wild dog body parts for a $120 reward during scheduled collection times.
"I urge hunters to refresh their knowledge about the terms and conditions to ensure they submit animal pieces covered by the bounty," Mr Wishart said.
The Fox and Wild Dog Bounty program received $6.7 million in the Victorian Government's 2020-21 Budget and will continue until 2024.
With 1 Million extra foxes killed, there is no doubt that recreational hunters need to be considered in all feral animal control methods. The economic benefits of recreational hunting alone should see that it is always considered in some form when it comes to controlling introduced species.