Foxes are highly adaptable, resilient and cunning pests that prey on both native wildlife and livestock and are considered a threat to 14 species of birds, 48 mammals, 12 reptiles and two species of amphibians.
These predators have been declared ‘established invasive animals’ by the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, and a single fox can consume thousands of native animals every year.
You can help to deter the predatory pests and support Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and Surf Coast Shire Council fox control efforts by removing potential food and shelter sources from your property.
Surf Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Rose Hodge, said foxes were opportunistic, meaning people could easily unwittingly feed or shelter the pests.
“Within our coastal environments and around our homes, there is an abundance of food available for foxes,” Cr Hodge said.
“We can all help reduce these food sources by minimising the amount of food left outside, particularly overnight, by covering compost, ensuring rubbish bins are fully closed and cleaning up fallen fruit regularly.”
GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald said homeowners should remove structures around their property where foxes may seek refuge or shelter including woody weeds such as boxthorn and blackberries, rubbish piles and old machinery.
“Fencing off rock piles, building materials, hay bales, woodpiles, and underneath houses will also help reduce hiding places foxes can live in,” she said.
GORCC and Council are working together to reduce fox numbers on the coast, with GORCC leading intensive on-ground eradication efforts and monitoring programs in coastal areas with Council funding support.
Council also runs separate fox eradication initiatives on land it manages as part of its annual pest plant and animal programs.
“Fox control requires an ongoing effort and our best chance of reducing numbers on the Surf Coast is for communities and land managers to work together,” said Ms. MacDonald.
Foxes are a particular threat to local, beach nesting Hooded Plovers, with the predators thought to have been behind the disappearance of multiple chicks, eggs and adult birds over the past two years.
“Point Impossible, Point Roadknight and Moggs Creek are being particularly targeted as these sites are known Hooded Plover breeding zones,” said Ms. MacDonald
Illegal littering constantly threatens the Surf Coast and you can do your bit and participate in a clean beach initiative to ensure a healthy coast for all.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) is partnering with Surf Coast Shire to organise a beach clean-up as part of the Take 3 initiative on the 29 November in Lorne.
The message behind ‘Take 3′ is simple – a visit to the beach should involve swimming, lying on the sand and rubbish collection – and asks people to pick up three pieces of rubbish every time they leave the beach.
Surf Coast beaches are among some of the most beautiful in Australia and GORCC encourages the community to get behind this initiative, ensuring our coast remains healthy for all to enjoy.
GORCC Coastal Reserves Manager Rod Goring said rubbish dumped illegally on our beaches and coastal reserves causes harm to the environment and also threatens coastal flora and fauna.
“One problem is that a large amount of household waste is often disposed of in public bins provided for beachgoers.”
“Not only is this illegal, but it causes overflow and litter on our beaches that is not only visually horrible but threatens coastal flora and fauna and the marine environment,” Mr Goring said.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said litter, including fishing line, poses danger to beach nesting birds and other coastal and marine wildlife, and urges beachgoers to do their bit and keep our coast clean.
“Marine debris, particularly plastic, has a disastrous impact in our oceans and on marine life with some of the dead seals and birds washing up on the coast have swallowed or been strangled by plastic bags, fishing line, bits of nets and other rubbish.”
“With breeding season underway for our precious Hooded Plovers, it’s especially important we don’t leave rubbish lying around as Hoodie’s can become easily entangled in fishing line on the beach, and we’ve seen this happen in the past.”
“Visitors to the Surf Coast are encouraged to embrace the Take 3 initiative by picking up three pieces of rubbish as we leave the beach,” she said.
Beachgoers are urged to use the bins provided on the grassed foreshore areas and adjacent to sand areas to dispose of rubbish.
“By doing your bit and disposing of rubbish, you will be contributing to a healthy coast for everyone to enjoy,” Ms Beale said.
For information on the beach clean-up contact Georgie Beale on 0417 523 463
From cats and foxes to litter and road traffic our coast is a minefield of dangers for local wildlife.
“From cats and foxes to litter and road traffic our coast is a minefield of dangers for local wildlife.
“It doesn’t take much to help to minimise such threats so that our native animals have the best chance of survival, and keeping your cat indoors is just one of the ways you can help,” he said.
For more information about threatend species on the Surf Coast click here
The Surf Coast Shire has implemented a ‘cat curfew’ to reduce the impact feral cats are having on native animals.
Under the curfew cats must be confined to the owner’s premises between 8pm and 6am daily.
To read about the Surf Coast Shire’s cat curfew click here
The council can seize cats found roaming in any public area or outside their owner’s property in this period and cats seized and not reclaimed within eight days may be destroyed.
Surf Coast Shire Mayor Brian McKiterick says its important owners register their cats.
It is particularly important that all cats are registered and are confined during the curfew hours; for their welfare and for the sake of native wildlife.
“It is particularly important that all cats are registered and are confined during the curfew hours; for their welfare and for the sake of native wildlife.
“Cats that are allowed to roam at night can have huge impacts on our environment and are also in much greater danger of being lost or hit by a car. I urge people to be responsible and look after their pets,” he said.
Under the Domestic Animal Act the owner of a cat found at large can be fined $100 for the offence and up to $300 for further infringements.
Click here to check out the Australian Government’s fact sheet on feral cats.
The forum generated various ideas for the next steps that could be taken towards realising our future aspirations as coast carers. These ideas could be grouped into four key themes.
In the conversations we have from now onwards, we need to:
continue to talk about the BIG questions that we hold and find ways of communicating the key messages simply – with each other and with others (e.g. Why is our work important? What does it matter?)
create opportunities for more conversations between our community and the various agencies involved in coast care
look for opportunities where people are gathering to talk about related topics (e.g. fire management) and draw links to our purpose and activities, and
reframe the language we use when communicating with others (e.g. refer to ‘vegetation’ as ‘habitat’ – see Birds Australia publications for good examples of simple, accessible language).
We also need to use the stories we share as a foundation to:
create an ‘interpretive story’ for visitors to experience on the soon-to-be-built Surf Coast Walk
set a mission that everyone shares the stories (i.e. what we do and why) with as many people as we can and then invite them to join us in taking action
capture and share the great stories that we all know about (and start to actively collect these stories in words, photos and video), and
use our broader network to create its own online space that is accessible and simple, and allows local groups to upload and share stories, photos, event details, questions and video.
In the work we do together, we can start to:
fund and prioritise ongoing monitoring programs to inform our learning and outcomes
make our activities more visible to other people, starting with working bees and other activities on the Great Ocean Road (Note: during the forum, Coast Action/Coastcare provided a sign template that groups could use to promote their activities)
start to research and document (e.g. in a story) the extent to which we are ‘winning or losing’ the battle to save key ecosystem species/the war against environmental weed species, and
begin looking to the philanthropic sector as a possible funding source for our projects (e.g. www.ourcommunity.com.au).
By networking more we could:
find a central point of contact that works across all the agencies (e.g. Coast Action/Coastcare)
update our own lists of all current volunteer groups, starting with centralised information sources (e.g. Surf Coast Shire, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee), and
make the effort to do more ‘volunteer exchanges’ when doing on-ground works.
If we focus on implementing some or all of these ideas as we talk, share, work together and network, we will move forward together and achieve more on-ground success in caring for the coast!