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Monday, November 21, 2005

Fox search moves to wider focus on scats

The Mercury: Fox search moves to wider focus on scats [22nov05]

FOX eradication measures could be better targeted by an expanded scat collection program analysing fecal matter from across the state rather than focusing just on fox hotspots, an expert said yesterday.

Dr Stephen Sarre of the University of Canberra, which is part of a collaboration that has pioneered a method of analysing large quantities of Tasmanian scats to find fox DNA, yesterday flagged a larger scat collection effort as a future management tool.

Dr Sarre said that by analysing scats from across the state, the program would have the potential to find where foxes were, even if that was outside so-called hotspots, and allow for targeted eradication once the presence of a fox was confirmed.

"That's where we can really add value to the program. The collection of scats at the moment is pretty focused on hotspot areas, and we don't know the distribution or potential for distribution elsewhere in the state, so a statewide scat collection would really help," he said.

Dr Sarre was speaking after delivering a presentation to the Australasian Wildlife Management Society's conference in Hobart.

The existing scat collection project has seen Fox Taskforce field officers collect 749 animal scats, of which only one, found near Conara in the Northern Midlands, tested positive as being from a fox.

To date, that sample is the best physical evidence of foxes in Tasmania.

A specialised screening procedure has been developed by the university for testing the scats, meaning it only has to DNA-sequence the most likely samples, saving time and money.

Dr Sarre said the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre was providing funding for the university to develop the capacity for large-scale scat testing.

A statewide survey would allow targeted responses to a confirmed fox presence.

"The problem in Tasmania is there are very few foxes, and we don't know exactly where they are. That makes it difficult to target and effectively control, because the idea is to eradicate foxes before they establish, which would be disastrous," he said.


At 9:14 PM, November 24, 2005, Blogger randomwalker said...

very scatalogical

what a job

there must be an awful lot of doggy doodoo out there


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