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Foxes destroy more than 300 turtle nests

Foxes destroy more than 300 turtle nests

TURTLES are getting older and slowly disappearing in the Murray River.

Although the numbers near the Gunbower Forest are currently stable the demographic has changed and foxes are wiping out numbers.

Turtles Australia president Graham Stockfield said the population is ageing and nests are still being wiped out by foxes.

‘‘A lot of the turtles around the Gunbower Forest and near Cohuna are all old turtles and there is no new recruitment,’’ he said.

‘‘We try to be there when the turtles are nesting to try and stop the foxes, but finding the nests and getting there before the foxes is the hard part.

‘‘Recently we have stopped five broadshell turtle nests from being attacked but then we have had over 300 nests destroyed by them.

‘‘So in the scheme of things we aren’t doing so great.’’

Mr Stockfield said although turtles are quite adaptable to the high predation rates the rate of decline is too high.

‘‘The hatchlings are also subject to the high rates of predation before they reach the water’’ he said.

‘‘Then when they finally reach the water there is the threat of Murray cod and everything else before they can get established.

‘‘At this rate some may be extinct within 100 years.’’

As a volunteer organisation Turtles Australia aim to protect and monitor turtle nesting sites and track their numbers.

‘‘It is also great for there to be some community awareness around turtles and their habitats,’’ Mr Stockfield said.

‘‘We have some people in the area that have all the gear to protect turtle nests if someone finds one.

‘‘We suggest if you find one to create a temporary shield over the nest, put something heavy on it, and call us so we can come out and create a more permanent one.

‘‘The TurtleSat website and app is also a great way for the public to submit footage of turtles and provide information so they can track their movements and habitats.’’

For more information head to turtlesat.org.au or turtlesaustralia.org.au