Normally, partnerships between government and private enterprise often revolve around infrastructure, with government desiring a cash injection and private enterprise desiring a profit in the form of tolls or some other income. However, a unique partnership has developed in Bendigo between Parks Victoria and the members of the SSAA Bendigo Branch which involves ridding our parks of foxes.
As hunters know, foxes are an introduced species which devastate our native fauna. According to the RSPCA, more than 1000 native animals per fox are killed each year. This devastating destruction is normally treated by either professional shooters or poison baiting. Professional shooters are not normally interested in small areas such as Bendigo and baiting has been found to be extremely expensive, non-specific and relatively ineffective.
SSAA Bendigo members comprise approximately 40 in number and range in age from 13 to those in their post-retirement years. The members have completed a SSAA Victoria Conservation & Pest Management (CPM) course, which ensures they are trained in survival, first-aid, navigation, safety, gun laws, shooting skills and the humane destruction of foxes.
Parks Victoria guarantees that the members have the appropriate permits and also supplies some of the required hardware including signage as well as high-visibility hats and vests. SSAA Bendigo supplies the ‘man-power’ and infrastructure and ensures that the area is appropriately signed and the surrounding landowners and occupants have been advised prior to the shoot.
It can cost hundreds of dollars per fox to control the species by poison baiting and accordingly a resolution that involves keen, well-trained and safety-conscious hunters is preferable. The hunters derive exercise, enjoyment, camaraderie and mental wellness from the pursuit, while the taxpayer achieves an outstanding result with very little input. This is an excellent example of a situation where the outcome is a win/win result.
On Saturday, May 7, SSAA Bendigo members removed 32 foxes from the parks around the Toolleen area, thus saving the taxpayer many thousands of dollars. Perhaps even more pleasing is that 32,000 native animals are still alive to be enjoyed by us all and to enrich our native environment. The accompanying photo was taken last year at the same shoot in Toolleen when 22 foxes were taken.
Invariably the members are praised for the outcome of the shoot and their professional demeanour by the residents, who have benefited from the reduction in the fox numbers. The arrangement in Bendigo should perhaps be a ‘blueprint’ for environmentally-sensitive pest management.