The nesting season of the flatback, green and endangered loggerhead marine turtles has just begun on The Discovery Coast – and one of their biggest threats, the feral fox, is waiting.
And to combat the raiding of turtle nests by foxes, Queensland Parks and Wildlife (QPWS), in conjunction with Gladstone Regional Council and Australian Bush Heritage Reedy Creek Reserve have been conducting a fox control program on the beaches and surrounds between Agnes Water and Baffle Creek.
Using 1080 Foxoff baits the QPWS has been controlling the numbers of foxes active in the area, with raids on nests on the decline in this sensitive marine environment.
Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said fox-baiting programs, among other strategies, had led to a dramatic turnaround in the marine turtle populations in the region.
“Since comprehensive fox-baiting programs were introduced we’ve seen a remarkable turnaround – nests destroyed by foxes have gone from as much as 90 per cent in the late 1970s and early 1980s to less than 5%,” Ms Jones said.
“Without fox control, large numbers of these nests would not have survived and most of the eggs would have been destroyed. For example one fox can be responsible for destroying a number of turtle nests.
“Loggerhead turtles take 30 years to mature so the impact of protecting turtle nests from foxes in 1990 will not be seen on the nesting beaches with increased numbers of resulting adults until one generation later.”
The loggerhead turtles nest on the old Miriam Vale Shire coastline from late October to early March, with hatchlings emerging from late December to April.
Fox baits were laid over 10 days from early October along the beaches and foreshore with warning signs placed at entrances to beaches. The combined program between Agnes Water and Baffle Creek concludes for this season today. Baits not taken will be disposed of.