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Cowra farmers join forces against the fox

Cowra farmers are joining forces to outsmart the fox and protect this autumn’s valuable crop of new lambs.

Farmers from the Merriganowry locality between Cowra and Gooloogong have been working with Central Tablelands Local Land Services to conduct their first coordinated group fox baiting campaign.

The Merriganowry group started laying baits in March just before their flocks began to lamb and hopes are high for a dramatic decrease in fox predation.

“I’ve already had a report from Merriganowry that there are definitely less foxes about,” said Cowra based Local Land Services Biosecurity Officer, Kellie Arnall.

Kellie was initially approached by an individual farmer planning to do some fox control. She suggested he would have more success if a larger group was involved. The farmer then started talking to other landholders in his area and the Merriganowry Fox Group was formed.

“There’s not much point baiting if your neighbours aren’t, because foxes will simply move in from next door to replace the foxes you’ve baited,” said Kellie.

“It’s much more effective to bait as a group prior to lambing. At this time of year it’s also ideal to tackle the problem, because there are young inquisitive pups out looking for new territory and they are more susceptible to trying the baits.”

“Lambs are so valuable the money you spend on buying baits is pretty insignificant compared to the lost profits if foxes are eating into your flock.”

“We have even had a cattle producer join the group to help out his neighbours, which is a great example of community spirit and farmers working together,” said Kellie.

In March Kellie Arnall arranged for Central Tablelands Local Land Services to run a Vertebrate Pest Training (VPT) Course for the first time in Cowra. The course covers the use of 1080 and Pindone on farm, as well as baiting techniques, toxicity, storage, transport, and legislation including health and safety procedures.

“All up we had ten local landholders participate, which is an excellent start to providing a service that has not been offered in Cowra before.  In the past farmers had usually travelled to either Bathurst or Young to complete the Local Land Services VPT course,” said Kellie.

“One of the landholders who came along hadn't baited for years because he wasn’t sure of the new rules and regulations. I had a chat to him and explained the course was being offered here in Cowra and he agreed to come along to try it out. Afterwards he said he’d learnt a lot and he will recommend it to other landholders.

Apart from chemical use accreditation, an on property risk assessment is also now required before farmers bait for feral pests. Local Land Services conducts the assessment process, working with landholders to map the best placement of the baits and to identify potential risks to neighbouring land.

For more information about fox baits and feral pest management contact Kellie Arnall at the Cowra office of Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 02 6341 9300.

Media contact: Kylie Krause | 0439 608370