Dry season increases fox risk

Dry season increases fox risk


News
PLAN AHEAD: Keyneton and Sedan grazier Mark Brown has learned to monitor local fox population behaviour to help bait effectively.

PLAN AHEAD: Keyneton and Sedan grazier Mark Brown has learned to monitor local fox population behaviour to help bait effectively.

Aa

SA producers are being warned of potentially greater stock losses during lambing this season, after increased fox populations and lighter ewe condition have created the perfect situation for predators.

Aa

SA producers are being warned of potentially greater stock losses during lambing this season, after increased fox populations and lighter ewe condition have created the perfect situation for predators.   

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin district officer Russell Norman monitors the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, Mid Murray and Riverland regions and said fox numbers have "not exploded but they are higher than normal". 

"There is no doubt about it, there are a lot of foxes in the area," he said. 

Mr Norman said it was very important to be prepared for foxes this year because of the dry conditions.

"It (the dry) has forced producers to supplement feed but if it is not enough, ewes will be in survival mode," he said. "It is fair to assume that the lambs born may not be at peak performance and therefore more susceptible to foxes. 

"There are already indications lambs could drop to below 2.5 kilograms liveweight so they will be vulnerable to prey."

Mr Norman urged producers to adopt a coordinated baiting program approach between neighbours because the potential loss of thousands of dollars worth of stock outweighed the outlay of $400 for fox bait. 

Keyneton and Sedan grazier Mark Brown believed a coordinated approach would benefit his existing plan for fox control. 

"It would help because I think people would be astounded about how many foxes are out there," he said. 

"I will bait in the next week or so at Sedan because our ewes are about five weeks from lambing.

"But I am only allowed to shoot foxes at Keyneton and Flaxman Valley because there are restrictions on the bait.

"We do not just set bait and forget about it either, we bait where we see gullies from foxes and monitor when a bait has been taken and replace it." 

Mr Brown had noticed increased fox populations in the past few seasons. 

"But getting them is another story," he said. 

"We can shoot 50 foxes a year but that is only what we catch because the country out here makes it difficult.

"We have already had to shoot some young foxes and usually that is not the case."

In the past, Mr Brown had lost about 25 per cent of lambs to foxes.

He expected to lose more than that in the coming months.

"If it remains dry, I guarantee there will be lots of dead lambs," he said.

"That is why I began feeding grain. Ewes will go onto pellets from a feeder soon.

"When you work it out we were getting about $150 for a sucker lamb so every lamb lost is a lot of money." 

Mr Brown believed if the state government were to introduce a virus similar to what was used on rabbit populations, it could save producers a lot of heartache. 

"A bounty like they have in Vic would not work here because the skins are worth nothing," he said. 

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes believed fox bait distribution stations had not been conducted in Mid Murray Council region in the past and previously producers had to collect bait from the council. 

"In my time I have not seen stations set up before so maybe they are trying to get more producers baiting," he said. 

"It is a good idea to bring the bait to the farmer, similar to how they tackle wild dogs up north. It is a good initiative to get people baiting. 

"I am seeing increased fox numbers and because ewes will be weaker, resistance to foxes will be a lot less." 

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by