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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
3 April 2002
Under Embargo Until 12.30 pm 18 Arpil 02
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss today announced emergency funding of $400,000 from the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust to help eradicate foxes in Tasmania.
Dr Kemp said, "The European red fox is a major threat to our native species and ecology. If it is allowed to become established in Tasmania it could have a devastating impact on a number of nationally listed threatened species endemic to Tasmania, as well as impacting on its valuable agricultural and tourism industries."
Commonwealth funding from the Natural Heritage Trust will contribute to the existing Tasmanian effort, focusing on enhancing the involvement of the Tasmanian community and the science behind the detection and eradication methods used in the project.
The Commonwealth grant will help fund such initiatives as:
The European red fox was first released near Melbourne in 1855 for recreational hunting. Within 50 years, it had spread as far as Western Australia. The first known incursions of foxes from the mainland to Tasmania occurred in 1999. Further incursions are believed to have taken place via illegal importation.
Many species now extinct or under threat on mainland Australia continue to survive in relative abundance in Tasmania. For example, the eastern quoll, Tasmanian bettong and Tasmanian pademelon are now extinct on the mainland. Others species such as the spotted-tail quoll, eastern barred bandicoot and the ground parrot have seriously declined on the mainland but retain a stronghold in Tasmania.
Tasmania also has 77 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that are largely terrestrial or ground breeding and weigh between 5 grams and 5 kilograms. These species would be most at risk of predation or competition from the fox.
Mr Truss said, "As a major predator of newborn lambs, the fox also threatens Tasmania's lamb production industry, especially the local fine wool industry. In some areas on the mainland foxes are responsible for the death of up to 30% of newborn lambs.
"The loss of important native species could also impact the valuable tourism industry." This grant builds on the significant funding that Tasmania has received over the last six years from the Coalition Government.
"Indeed, no Commonwealth Government has been more committed or generous to Tasmania's environment than the Howard Government. Tasmania has received over 46 per cent of all funds that have been allocated to the States for the management of their World Heritage properties. In addition, the Government committed $150 million or 10 percent of the Natural Heritage Trust to Tasmania over the last six years," Dr Kemp said.
"This represents more money for the environment than has ever previously been allocated to Tasmania by a Commonwealth Government over a similar period.
"It is my hope that the Commonwealth funding for this year will increase our chances of ridding Tasmania of this menace prior to the fox breeding season in June and July.
"It is imperative that the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments work together to eradicate this pest that has already caused so much damage on the mainland," Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp's office Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Mr Truss's office Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433