Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Dorian Moro

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Mawson

Third Advisor

Dr Mark Lund

Abstract

As the world's population becomes increasingly urbanised, the need for people to see nature on their doorstep is becoming more appealing. The city of Perth (Western Australia) has large areas of bushland that have been reserved as conservation estate, and therefore are only minimally modified by urban development. But while many of these urban bushland reserves contribute highly to biodiversity in the form of vegetation, vertebrate surveys have indicated a low diversity of fauna. These areas have the potential to function in a more complete manner as nature reserves with significant conservation value by supporting populations of native animals which once inhabited these areas.In Western Australia the Department of Conservation and Land Management has achieved success at fauna re-introductions as part of its Western Shield Program due to intensive predator control, in particular foxes. Fox control is achieved by baiting using toxic 1080 baits. Fox control using 1080 baits has also been effective in semi-urban areas of Perth and Sydney. But in a highly urban I residential area baiting poses potential lethal risks to domestic animals. Three parks in the Perth Metropolitan Region were used to determine an effective method for urban fox control that maximises bait uptake by target species (fox) and minimises uptake by non-target species. Two bait types were tested, together with four different bait presentation methods, combined to give a total of eight treatments. Two seasons were also tested, to see if fox activity differed. The potential risks of poison baiting to target and non-target animals in an urban area leads to social concerns for the people who live near or use the areas where baiting would take place. Therefore another aim of this study was to establish the level of support for fox control in the Perth Metropolitan Region, as well as the level of awareness Perth people have for Western Shield, and the risks associated with 1080 baits. A questionnaire was constructed and distributed to the users and nearby residents of two of the three parks used in this study. Although foxes showed no clear preference for a particular bait type or presentation method, Techniques were found that reduced bait uptake by non-target animals. Tethering was an effective method to reduce birds such as ravens moving the baits, while an effective public awareness campaign seeking responsible dog control was found to reduce uptake of baits by dogs. Level of support for fox control in Perth was high, even though many of the questionnaire respondents were not aware of the Western Shield program. This study has shown there is the potential for effective predator control to be undertaken in Perth, with the support of park users and residents. Perth has the potential to lead the way in urban ecology. With Kings Park and Botanic Gardens already renowned for its flora attractions, in the future it could be a leader in urban fauna conservation.

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