Yes, Everyone should be happy, it now appears there are no foxes in
Tasmania and possibly (probably) never were. And yes we would all agree
there should always be adequate monitoring for feral animal
introductions in Tasmania. But this recent Tasmanian fox eradication
issue went way beyond any of that. Fabricated evidence and the
possibility of criminality behind the fox evidence claims is the main
point of issue and many believe this mess needs to be cleared up before
any federal grants are awarded for feral cat control.
Amongst other problems, there have been various so called "independent"
studies and reports prepared for the Tas Govt. where the results appear
to have been skewed and where high value contracts were awarded to the
authors of these reports. In other words, the authors and their
organisations were direct financial beneficiaries of their own reviews
and recommendations. How independent is that? There were reports that
stated there was a population of 50+ foxes roaming the bush in Tas. A
responsible government has no choice to act in the face of that type of
conclusion but It appears that much of the ongoing evidence for such
conclusions is now not available for independent evaluation. For
example, why would there now not be a complete set of DNA samples stored
in a bank available for further analysis
To restore any semblance of public credibility to the environmental
scientific community, among other things. the direct beneficiaries for
more than 45 million dollars of taxpayer funding needs to be clearly
identified and the use of those funds publicly accounted for. The
methods and procedures used for assessing and handling scientific
evidence need to be measured and compared to acceptable standards .
Please note that this is my reply only in response to Andrew's note
above however I am not a spokesperson for any of this, I just hope that
I can report to the group on current happenings that should concern any
environmental observer who worries about public credibility and its
importance to achieving successful environmental outcomes.
St Helens, Tasmania
Andrew Hobbs wrote:
> If someone fabricated evidence then sure perhaps they should be
> But I strongly disagree with the idea that the effort as wasted.
> Reading the reports in the articles at the links it sounds more like
> polititions jumping on the bandwagon and using hindsight since this
> review was conducted on the evidence gained over the previous 10
> years or more.
> For example 'Another review member, veterinary pathologist David
> Oberndorf, says the program failed the first test of proof. "People
> need to know that this has been independently, repeatedly demonstrated
> that you have got evidence that shows that the fox is in the
> landscape," he said.'
> He is implying that everyone has to wait around until the fox has
> become sufficiently common that they have independent, repeated proof
> that foxes are present. By that criteria if there really was a problem
> it could cost 10 or 100 times more or even become impossible to
> Another is 'Fox ecologist Clive Marks, who led the review team,
> disputes much of the evidence used to justify millions of dollars
> being poured into the program.'
> In fact he might dispute the evidence but it is still the evidence
> collected in those years. Could he have been sure that foxes weren't
> present 14 years ago without that evidence.
> Another report had a quote "But hunter and gamekeeper Ian Rist says if
> foxes were widespread in the state, he and other hunters would have
> seem them." What a stupid irrelevant comment. No one ever claimed that
> foxes were widespread. All it would have taken would have been one
> female and one male. And perhaps we do know now there are no foxes in
> Tasmania, but that is after 10 years of intense searching.
> So what should they have done. Wait around until some hunter or farmer
> had shot a fox and they had absolutely proven to be present and
> breeding like rabbits.
> Australia has so many instances of the consequences of letting a
> handful of an exotic species loose that I would have thought that we
> should be cheering the politicians who had the understanding and
> foresight to allow such a campaign to go ahead. We should also be
> thoroughly criticizing the reporters who are slanting their news
> stories as if it was a waste of money, when what they are relying on
> are the results of 10 years of work they are criticizing. What
> fantastic hindsight.
> I would like to see how those same people would react if someone came
> back with a false positive for foot and mouth disease say, and the
> current plan for its control was put into place before they could
> absolutely prove that it wasn't foot and mouth.
> And keep in mind the reaction of the various Agriculture boards to
> reports of possible exotic species, even though most of those turn out
> to be negative. They know that it is better to be safe than sorry.
> On 10/12/2015 6:46 PM, Ian May wrote:
>> <>A recent review into the Tasmanian Fox eradication program has
>> found no evidence of foxes in Tasmania. There are calls for a
>> thorough Police investigation into this whole sorry saga.
>> See also
>> This disgraceful episode has irreparably damaged the credibility of
>> the environmental movement in Tasmania. There are many questions
>> that need answers before this one is put to bed. We should all feel
>> cheated that more than 45 million dollars has been wasted, probably
>> at the expense of genuine needs such as conservation and protection
>> of Orange-bellied Parrot etc.
>> It is interesting to note that birding-aus probably got the first
>> scoop on this back in October 2002. At that time, it was interesting
>> to observe that Mr. Camby, the author of the report
>> was howled down by some birding aus subscribers for suggesting that
>> there could be fraud at the heart of the Tasmanian Fox eradication
>> This saga places a cloud of shame over the entire Tasmanian
>> environmental movement. It is very sad to see.
>> Ian May
>> St Helens, Tasmania
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