ACCORDING to Gingin Vermin Action Group, an economic incentive to cull foxes and feral cats is needed to control the impact on farming and native wildlife which is currently under threat.
Gingin farmer and head of the action group Mr Gary Harley says, 50,000 foxes and feral cats could be eradicated in a few years if the WA state government implemented a $30 bounty for each kill.
“The damage we see is through most aspects of agriculture, horticulture and through to some pretty horrifying lamb percentages,” he says.
“One farmer last year was losing up to 25 lambs a night, so across the state, the losses would be mind blowing.”
While Agriculture Minister Terry Redman says the idea of a bounty may not be feasible, other initiatives are in place to try and combat the issue.
The Red Card for Red Fox (RCRF) has been around since 2004 and was started by two local Land Care coordinators who decided to promote the idea of baiting the pests at the same time, each year to control the fox breeding cycle.
According to Shahan Hobson, coordinator for RCRF, all fox, rabbit and feral cat control is currently voluntary, and involves 50 registered groups from Northampton to Esperance.
“The Department of Agriculture and Food supports landholders through biosecurity officers, who control the distribution of the 1080 poison,” she says.
“This program coordinates landholder efforts and encourages participation.”
This direction has culminated in the RCRF annual hunt, which recently attracted 300 volunteers across the South West land division and resulted in an estimated culling of 2000 foxes and feral cats.
Mr Harley’s group decided two years ago to continue monthly shooting after participating in the RCRF and soon reached a point where the local fox population collapsed and native wildlife was able to regenerate.
“The biggest impact we see is in the native animal numbers we can’t replace, with many species, which were evident here years ago, are all but gone,” he says.
“Ground nesting birds that have bred up in our control areas give us hope that we are having the same impact in the bush – giving [native] animals some relief.”
While a bounty may not be viable in WA, the Victoria state government has offered its hunters a $4 million Fox and Wild Dog Bounty, which commenced in October 2011.
The initiative offers hunters a $10 bounty reward for each fox killed and $50 for each wild dog killed.