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Posted on 24/07/2014 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island Nature Parks has deployed fox detection dogs in an effort to track and eradicate the last remaining foxes on Phillip Island.

The springer spaniels, named Sam and Jazz, will be used over the next three years to search for fox scat and fresh fox scent. The dogs will be deployed across the island with dog handler, Craig Bester, and mapping will enable Nature Parks rangers to determine the most likely locations of the remaining foxes or their dens.

“The introduction of fox detection dogs brings us one step closer to completely eradicating foxes from Phillip Island,” fox project manager, Stuart Murphy, said.

“Sam and Jazz have undergone intensive training and are highly skilled at working across a variety of Phillip Island’s landscapes.”

Foxes have been the greatest land-based threat to Phillip Island’s little penguins for over 100 years - one fox can kill up to 30 penguins in one night. To help protect Phillip Island’s biodiversity, a Fox Eradication Program began in 2007. A public awareness campaign allowed members of the community to “Dob In A Fox”, while strategic broad-scale baiting integrated with other techniques occurred across most of Phillip Island.  

Since the implementation of that program, Phillip Island’s fox population has been reduced from between 60 to 80 individuals in 2007, to an estimated 11 today. As a result, ground-nesting birds such Cape Barren geese, masked lapwings and hooded plovers have increased in abundance and only one little penguin has been killed by a fox since the program commenced.  

The installation of two cameras on the Phillip Island bridge is planned in the near future to monitor the potential migration of foxes from the mainland.

The deployment of the fox detection dogs and other fox eradication initiatives was made possible through ongoing funding by Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Penguin Foundation and via a grant from the Ian Potter Foundation.

If you spot a fox on Phillip Island, please call: 0419 369 365.