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Foxes removed to protect turtle population

March 15, 2023 7:04 am in by
Photo: Burnett Mary Regional Group

Another round of invasive fox control has been completed along the coast of the Burnett Mary region to help protect nests and hatchlings of marine turtles that visit our beaches.

Round 7 of the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program saw 50 foxes humanely removed from the Moore Park Beach, Burnett River and Wreck Rock (Deepwater National Park) areas over 90 days.

These on-ground control works have contributed to the overarching goal of the Nest to Ocean project: to protect the rookeries of loggerhead, green and flatback turtles that nest on the beaches of these areas.

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“Introduced foxes pose a significant threat to turtle eggs, hatchlings and other native wildlife,” says Burnett Mary Regional Group project lead Victoria Clarke.

“Mortality rates of young turtles and eggs are already incredibly high, even without human-caused threats like introduced species.”

Ms Clarke says the project aims to reduce predation by invasive foxes on turtle numbers by humanely removing these predators from areas where turtle nesting rates are high.

“We can’t alleviate the problem completely but we can at least keep it under control,” she says.

BMRG has engaged the services of several invasive species control contractors throughout the duration of round 7, including Silent Night Pest Management and Bush to Bay Weed Control.

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“Research has shown that 1 in 1000 turtle hatchlings make it back to the beach as an adult,” says Daniel Borg, co-owner and operator of Bush to Bay Weed Control.

“Every fox we trap is a start in helping these turtles make it back.”

Shane Jackson, owner and operator of Silent Night Pest Management, says the work in invasive species control needs to be continuous and ongoing.

“If the control stops, there’ll be a brief grace period with low fox numbers, but then we’ll see those fox numbers grow back up again and then we’ll be back to square one,” he says.

Ms Clarke emphasises projects like Nest to Ocean are a crucial part of protecting these iconic and already vulnerable marine reptiles.

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“Our contractors have had great success in reducing the numbers of foxes at major turtle nesting sites so far, and we want to see that hard work continue through future rounds of projects like Nest to Ocean.”

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