BENDIGO has claimed the most fox scalps in Victoria under the state government’s bounty program.
The Bendigo collection centre has had 29,500 dead foxes handed in since the bounty started in October 2011, ahead of the Ballarat collection centre with 27,300 scalps.
More than 200,000 foxes have been collected statewide, with the government paying more than $2 million in incentives to hunters.
The bounty was reinstated as a state government election commitment, offering $10 for each fox killed.
Agriculture and food security minister Peter Walsh labelled the program “a huge success” in eradicating foxes.
“It has been popular with hunters since day one, and as a result of this program we know there are 200,000 fewer foxes roaming Victoria,” he said. In Bendigo alone there have been 571 hunters taking part in the bounty program.
Shooter Ian Dean hunts foxes around Bendigo bushlands with the Ravenswood Fox Drives group.
He said about 25 to 45 people gathered in the fox drives each weekend during winter.
“On average we get around 170 foxes a year,” he said.
“It’s basically a hobby for us, and the bounty has certainly been good for our little club, it helps us fund equipment.”
Mr Dean said the shooters in the group were keen conservationists who were focused on protecting native wildlife and vegetation.
“It’s amazing the number of foxes in parks around Bendigo,” he said.
“We’re not going to get all of them but we’re certainly making a dent in their numbers.”
Wild dog skins have also been collected as part of the government program, with 793 dogs handed in across the state.
The bounty for wild dogs was recently increased to $100 each. Mr Walsh said the campaign had been effective in destroying pests and protecting livestock and native fauna.
“The bounty rewards hunters for playing an active role in controlling both foxes and wild dogs,” he said.
“Hunters are doing a great job and the government recognises and appreciates the community’s help.”