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Abstract

Foxes are regarded as a serious pest of environmental and grazing systems in Australia. The fox is a recognised predator of native wildlife and has been a significant contributor to the population decline of many native mammal, bird and reptile species. There are also claims that foxes may account for up to 30% of lamb mortalities in some areas, while mortality due to predation of 2 to 5% is more likely in most regions. The ‘Outfox the Fox’ program was established by NSW Agriculture in conjunction with a number of Rural Land Protection Boards to achieve a more strategic and coordinated fox baiting program. This program relies on a community driven and integrated management approach to the problem. The main features are to synchronise baiting across landholders at least twice a year, undertake baiting during periods when the fox is most susceptible, regularly check and replace baits, and continue until the bait take declines. A stochastic economic surplus and benefit-cost analysis model was developed to evaluate this program. The change in annual economic surplus due to the ‘Outfox the Fox’ program was $3.4m. The benefit-cost analysis showed that the project provided a significant return on public investment with a mean net present value of $9.8m and a mean benefit-cost ratio of 13.0:1. The stochastic analysis indicated that there was a very low probability of this program providing a negative economic return.

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