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Author: Jennifer Forman Orth

Invading your brain since 2002.

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Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dedd Foxx  

Yahoo! News has a story about the impact of European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) control programs in Western Australia. The government, concerned that the removal of foxes from the ecosystem may have led to an increase in the number of feral cats, have now announced a $16 million AUS program to control the cats, which are apparently a bit smarter than foxes when it comes to taking the poison bait. As state environment minister Mark McGowan notes, "There is a strong suspicion that this is due to an increase in cat numbers, as a direct consequence of the decrease in fox numbers."

Suspicion eh? The fox control program has been in place for several years (see this older ISW post). A quick Googling brought up this press release from CSIRO, where a researcher brings up the possible positive effects on feral cat populations if foxes are removed from the ecosystem. There is also this report from the Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage that provides more information, including several examples of expanding feral cat pops. Both refer to work done back in the late 1990s!. Hmm...does Dr. Molsher get to say "I told you so!" now?

Update: As commenter Roadkill Goanna points out, Tasmania can no longer claim to be fox-free. This article from The Australian notes that foxes have been in the country since at least 1998. Thanks Roadkill! (never thought I would type that phrase :-) )



Eh, and now they reckon the foxes have finally made it to Tasmania. (,20867,19593943-29277,00.html ) Is there no end to the madness? If it's not cane toads or European carp or European wasps it's rabbits, crown-of-thorns starfish and buffalo. Oh well, at least we're not New Zealand.

By Blogger Roadkill Goanna, at 7/11/2006 03:05:00 AM  

I'm sure they feel the same way about us...perhaps humans are the invasive species.

You have a very interesting blog, congrats on becoming a blog of note.

By Blogger Braedy Tritthart, at 7/11/2006 05:19:00 AM  

You should post something about
the most invasive and destructive species in the history of the planet - homo sapiens. The humans, as we speak, are destroying countless species and ravaging the planet and its climate with record speed.

By Blogger Anna Van Z, at 7/11/2006 09:40:00 AM  

Congrats on getting on 'Blogs of note'.

Sad but I guess it is necessary to protect the native species of fauna.

By Blogger Adam, at 7/11/2006 10:43:00 AM  

If men want made agriculture or livestock production must pay the cost of depredation.If society demands wild animal conservation must reward farmers for losses.This would be a fairy solution.

By Blogger Jorge Gajardo Rojas, at 7/11/2006 11:12:00 AM  

The synergistic effects of species upon species...

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at 7/11/2006 01:47:00 PM  

Wonderful blog site! I'm getting ready to travel to Perth from the US in two days and teach some exchange students an ethics course focusing on the environment. I was fascinated to come across your blog!

By Blogger Joseph K, at 7/12/2006 01:33:00 AM  

I have an infestation of ants in my home. What must I do to be rid of them?

Though I fear them greatly, I do not wish to kill them as I may decide to become a Buddhist in the future, and this will ruin my chances of getting in.

Is there some sort of ethically-sound trap that I could bait with jam to capture the ants in? I would then be able to release them safely in a forest at my leisure in a few years time.

By Blogger Horton Carew, at 7/12/2006 08:43:00 AM  

Great site! And interesting post. Coincidentally, I was just reading about this issue in Collapse, by Jared Diamond. He talks about how the foxes and rabbits that were introduced by Europeans into Australia in the 19th century have wreaked untold amounts of environmental -- and thus economic -- damage. Whether or not the current $16 million cat control program is a good idea, it's part of the long costly legacy of the foxes having been introduced. Hopefully we'll learn from such historical mistakes.

By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/12/2006 03:24:00 PM  

I noticed this blog on Blogger blogs of note and thought I'd check it out.
Great blog! The issue of introduced predators along with other feral species has had a disastrous effect on the Australian ecology. I was interested to find that cats have had quite a long history in Australia and that they may have been introduced long before Europeans settled here. What is also interesting to me is that there is an obvious lack of small native mammals anywhere that foxes exist however some seem to be able to survive despite the presence of cats, (for how long I don’t know)
I like this blog and will add a link to it on mine. Great reading.

By Blogger David J, at 7/12/2006 04:41:00 PM  

This is the best thing to happen. Finaaly something that promotes humans rights over animals.

By Blogger wheatgerm, at 7/12/2006 06:36:00 PM  

We don't have a fox or a cat problem here.

What we have here is a dumbass human problem.

Most (if not all) invasive species are brought in by humans who think it's a good idea to bring this foriegn species into a new environment. Guess what? It doesn't work. (Don't believe me, head down South. It's covered in kudzu.... which some retard thought would make good cxattle feed. Cattle won't eat the crap and it spreads like wildfire.)

Of course, I don't think you would understand what I'm talking about here....

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2006 06:19:00 PM  

A valid point Anon, but in the case of Australia, the foxes were introduced in the 1850s (see here). We cannot do anything to prevent past introductions, as stupid as they may have been. What we can do is educate the public to prevent future introductions, and we can (attempt to) manage established invasive species.

By Blogger Jenn, at 7/14/2006 06:32:00 PM  

Hey Invasive One (never thought I'd type that either. Though I know your real name is Dr Jennifer).

Reading the posts above by Braedy and Anna I was reminded of Australia's favourite eco-alarmist, Tim Flannery, describing man as "the ultimate terminator species", or something like that, in his eye-opening book The Future Eaters. ( )

Not sure if you're familiar with Flannery's work, but The Future Eaters (which was both lauded and pilloried by the Oz media and intelligentsia) goes into depressing detail about what introduced species have done to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. And only about 98% of the blame is laid at the white man's door. I'm sure you know this, but in NZ, for instance, the Maori basically ate every moa on the islands, and in Oz the Aborigines' light-a-big-fire-and-kill-and-cook-whatever-runs-out hunting methods accounted for any number of species (including wombats as big as Volkswagens, I believe) and burned down most of the continent's rainforests, which were replaced by bushfire-prone eucalypt forests.

On a lighter note, are you familiar with the modern-day King Canutes of Indian Myna Management Solutions Australia?

Roadkill Goanna

By Blogger Roadkill Goanna, at 7/21/2006 04:52:00 AM  

Hmm, I'm all for taking out most all of the invasive critters. I suppose we'd be at the top of that list, though, so I'll settle for cats.

By Blogger Bird Advocate, at 1/15/2007 02:49:00 AM  

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