OTWAYS farmers can trial a new humane method of catching foxes on their properties.
Cape Otway’s Conservation Ecology Centre has bought about 30 soft-jawed fox traps and hopes landowners around Cape Otway and Apollo Bay will volunteer to use the traps.
The ecology centre’s Lizzie Corke said she heard about the traps from Otway Coast Committee, which used them to protect hooded plover breeding areas at Apollo Bay.
“They’re a really good solution for places where there are a lot of pet dogs around,” Ms Corke said.
“We’ll be using them on private land adjoining the national park,” she said.
“There are a few cottages around here which specialise in dog holidays.”
Ms Corke said the traps were humane because they had rubber jaws, instead of the usual metal jaws.
“When they catch a dog or cat or fox, they just keep them in one place and don’t hurt them at all,” she said.
Ms Corke said foxes had a “devastating” impact on wildlife in the Otways.
“The project is all about protecting tiger quolls,” she said.
“But all the small mammals, birds and reptiles, they’ll all be doing better without foxes.
“This project is complementing existing Parks Victoria efforts to control foxes on national parks.”
The centre bought the traps using a $20,000 State Government Caring for Our Country community action grant.
Volunteers can attend a workshop on April 30 to learn about setting the traps and becoming a part of a remote camera fox survey.
Otway Coast Committee’s Gary McPike said the committee’s outdoor staff started using the traps about 18 months ago.
“We’d been using cages but had very little success,” Mr McPike said.
“We’d managed to catch one fox and one cat in one year but we started trapping and we managed to get 15 foxes in the first two to three weeks,” he said.
“It’s very effective and it’s a rubber-jawed trap so if a person gets caught – and we’ve had one or two silly people stand in them – it doesn’t cause injury.”
Mr McPike said staff checked the traps each morning for the hooded plover protection effort, taking the foxes away to euthanase and bury.
“Since we’ve started, the first year we had an improvement, it was the best success we’d had in eight years,” he said.
People can contact the ecology centre by April 25 to register for the workshop.