Fox raids on turtle nests in the Gunbower Forest have been reduced by 70 per cent, according to those monitoring attacks on eggs and babies.
From October to December 2017 the North Central Catchment Authority, along with the National Landcare Program, the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Turtles Australia and the Western Sydney University conducted an intensive fox baiting program.
Usually, only one per cent of juvenile turtles survive in the region, due mostly to predation by foxes. Foxes raid nests, eat turtle eggs or attack the babies as they make the journey to the water.
North Central CMA project manager Amy Russell said the program targeted the breeding season of Murray River and eastern long neck turtles.
“We laid poisonous baits every 200 metres and refreshed them over the 10 weeks in key turtle nesting areas in the Gunbower State Forest, in what was the most intensive baiting program the region has ever seen,” she said
“We also supported research into non lethal methods to manage the impacts of foxes. In the end, foxes took more than 755 baits – 450 of them in the first five days – which is a huge number.”
Ms Russell thanked visitors for keeping their dogs in leads.
“We didn’t have any reports of dogs taking baits,” she said.
“This program was a first for us, but with the level of community support, and the level of effectiveness, we should only need to roll it out every three years, which means we will have generations of turtles benefitting across the whole region.”