The Southern Ark Project
The Southern Ark project has been in operation for 10 years, with the primary aim being to achieve effective, ongoing fox control across 1 million hectares of State Forest (60% of total area) and National Park (40% of total area) within the East Gippsland Forest Management Area (FMA). I have attached a map to indicate the footprint of the Southern Ark project.
Fox control within this area is delivered through a year-round baiting program, in which 3,500 bait stations distributed throughout the FMA are baited at regular intervals with Foxoff econobaits, which contain the toxin 1080. While this project is undertaken primarily for the benefit of the biodiversity of the region (especially amongst ground-dwelling mammals and birds), there are clearly benefits for adjacent pastoralists, and for the local tourism industry.
The project aims to protect and enhance populations of native mammals and ground-dwelling birds in the most intact ecosystems in Victoria. The area is inhabited by a range of species of conservation concern that have declined as a direct result of fox predation. These species include the Long-nosed Potoroo, the Long-footed Potoroo, the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the Spotted-tailed Quoll, the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, the Diamond Python, the Little Tern, the Fairy Tern and the Hooded Plover. It is the aim of the project to halt the decline of these species by seriously impacting on the fox population. The East Gippsland Forest Management Area was selected for this project as it is the most pristine area of mesic forest habitat in Victoria, and which supported the greatest range of fauna, while at the same time having a suitable network of roads along which bait stations could be established.
To reiterate, bait stations containing Foxoff baits containing 1080 are established at regular intervals along all accessible forest roads in the East Gippsland Forest Management Area, for the clear purpose of targeting foxes. These bait stations are permanently baited, with baits checked and replaced on a monthly basis. While the baits are buried at depth (greater than 10cm below the surface of the ground), the stations may still interest domestic dogs, and consumption of these baits would pose a considerable risk for any domestic animal. Appropriate signage is established along all tracks along which bait stations are established, and all residents in the region are advised by mail every 12 weeks that the baiting program is still in operation.
As well as the Southern Ark project, the DELWP Wild Dog program also undertakes a range of baiting programs for the control of Wild Dogs, and many landholders within the Southern Ark footprint also lay baits during two 12-week programs.
Andrew Murray | Southern Ark Operations Manager | Environment & Natural Resources
Regional Services | Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
171-173 Nicholson Street (PO Box 260) Orbost, Victoria 3888