Lock up your bins: Environment Minister’s recommendations for fox control in Rowville

UPDATED EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES HANSARD

 Tuesday, 8 March 2016

CONSTITUENCY QUESTIONS

Mr WELLS (Rowville) — (Question 6912) The constituency question I wish to raise is for the attention of the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water. Last year local residents raised with me the issue of out-of-control foxes killing or maiming domestic pet animals on residential properties and wildlife on adjacent public lands in Rowville.

The foxes live on the Rowville public lands controlled by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Melbourne Water and Knox City Council. Local residents and local media have already reported that foxes are again roaming the streets of Rowville on the prowl for prey. It is my understanding that Knox City Council has advised that there is no funding for any fox cull or ongoing fox mitigation programs.
I therefore ask the minister on behalf of the concerned residents of my Rowville electorate: why has a long-term coordinated eradication or mitigation solution to the local fox problem in Rowville not been developed between the agencies that manage the respective adjacent lands bordering the residential estates of Rowville, DELWP, Melbourne Water and Knox City Council?

Question answered 4 April 2016

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) was deliberately introduced into Victoria from the 1850s for recreational hunting. Victorian habitats have proved highly favourable for the fox – it has established in all terrestrial environments from inner urban areas to alpine heaths, rainforests, coasts and the Mallee.

In urban areas it is particularly difficult to control fox numbers. There are limitations on traditional control measures such as shooting and baiting. In Rowville, efforts to exclude foxes from residential properties are more effective than directly targeting fox populations. Actions include ensuring chicken coops are fox-proof and fastened nightly, clearing fallen fruit from trees and using secure compost and waste bins.

Typically, fox control on public land in Victoria aims to reduce the impacts of fox predation on native wildlife, including threatened species. Ark projects are long-term, large scale fox mitigation projects. Ark projects are coordinated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and/or Parks Victoria (PV) (dependent on the land management arrangements in place). Cross agency steering groups made up of representatives from relevant agencies i.e. local councils, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, DELWP and PV guide and support delivery of these projects. Ark projects include monitoring activities to assess effectiveness of projects. Effectiveness is measured through reduction in fox numbers and increases in native wildlife. Collectively the Southern Ark, Glenelg Ark, Grampians Ark and Central Highlands Ark projects cover more than 1.25 million hectares of predominantly high value public land across the state.

There are  coordinated activities that occur locally. Parks Victoria, for example, is directing $5,000 towards soft jaw trapping of foxes within a contained area of the Dandenong Valley Parklands. Knox and Monash city councils provide additional funding for this collaborative project aimed at protecting the threatened Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua).

There is also $5,800 p.a. project focused on fox baiting at Lysterfield Lake Park (Parks Victoria). This 3 year Good Neighbour Program (GNP) funded project complements fox control efforts being undertaken on adjoining freehold properties. The next round of GNP applications is now open. The GNP provides funding for DELWP and PV staff to coordinate pest plant and animal control works along the public-private land interface, specifically to prevent invasive species moving from public to private land.

Local businesses and organisations also participate in fox eradication programs. For example exclusion efforts by the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne include the installation of nine kilometres of feral-proof fencing. The fencing is 1.8 metres tall, with a floppy top to prevent foxes climbing over, and wire below ground level and set back from the fence line to stop foxes digging under. Surveillance of the perimeter is undertaken weekly to make sure there are no new holes.

 Hon Lisa Neville MP
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water