“To those counting extinctions, watch the impact of the deliberate introduction of foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and subsequent failures to control them in Tasmania for a species extinction or two over the next couple of human generations.
This was the last significant safety zone for Australia’s unique small mammals and will surely allow some wonderful peer reviwed papers that describe the decline as we sit back and watch it happen. We are about to see the final stages of the march to extinction of a vast array of unique animals,” wrote Linton Staples* at an earlier blog post on mammalian extinctions.
According to the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service:
“The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced to mainland Australia as early as the 1850’s. Since that time the fox has inflicted enormous impacts on the native wildlife of Australia, being implicated in the extinction of many native animals. Indeed, Australia’s apalling record of mammal extinctions in the last 200 years – the worst in the world – is in no small part due to the fox.
…The fox represents the single most devastating threat to Tasmania’s native mammals and birds. This island State is recognised as a national and international fauna haven due to the lack of foxes, but should the species become established here all of Tasmania’s native land animals would be at risk.
Threatened and high conservation significance species at risk [if the fox establishes in Tasmania] would include:
eastern barred bandicoot
long nosed potoroo
southern brown bandicoot
long tailed mouse
velvet furred rat
New Holland mouse
painted button quail
great crested grebe
green and gold bell frog
glossy grass skink.
The Tasmanian pademelon and Tasmanian bettong, both of which thrive in Tasmania, are now extinct on the mainland because of the fox. The mainland eastern barred bandicoot has been reduced to a mere 200 surviving individuals because of the fox. The young of unique species such as the Tasmanian devil, spotted tail quoll that are left unattended in dens are highly vulnerable to fox predation.
More widespread species like ducks, shorebirds, ground nesting birds, blue tongue lizards, mountain dragons, skinks and frogs are all highly at risk.”
* Linton is the Managing Director of Animal Control Technologies which sells FOXOFF® fox bait.