Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Taking foxes out of the system allows recovery and re-introduction of native mammals (#624)

Trish T Mooney 1 , Rob R Brandle 1
  1. Natural Resources SA Arid Lands, Port Augusta, South Australia, Australia

The Bounceback Program has undertaken 25 years of broadscale control of the feral red fox (Vulpes vulpes), currently covering around 700,000 ha across the semi-arid ranges of central South Australia. Fox control consists of bi-annual aerial baiting with 1080 poison meat baits, with supplementary ground baiting also occurring across reserves and partner properties, providing a quarterly control program. This has allowed sustained recovery of the nationally threatened yellow-footed rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus) and, more recently, the reintroduction of locally extinct species. The mammal fauna of the Flinders Ranges was hit hard by the damage to native vegetation habitats and other threatening processes following pastoral development and the introduction of new species from the 1830s onwards. This resulted in the local extinction of at least 20 species and the decline of others, including the yellow-footed rock-wallaby which is a hill country specialist, favouring rocky scree slopes and steep gorges, where deep crevices and caves provide some protection from predators. Surveys in the 1980s indicated that the range of this rock-wallaby had undergone significant contraction in the 150 years since European settlement and that remaining populations were isolated and declining. Causes of its decline included hunting, habitat degradation, fox predation and competition for resources with feral goats (Capra hircus). Data will be presented from a range of monitoring techniques, including aerial survey, spotlight counts and remote camera surveys that demonstrate the effectiveness of fox control and the recovery of yellow-footed rock-wallaby across the Bounceback footprint.