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Fox fence kills long-necked turtles
PhD student Bruno Ferronato overlooks the conservation fence, designed to protect endangered
wildlife, that is inadvertently killing turtles at Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve, Forde.Photo: Matt Bedford
A conservation fence designed to
protect endangered wildlife is
inadvertently killing other animals.
University of Canberra
researchers found almost 100
eastern long-necked turtles had
been snared by a fence set up to
protect endangered bettongs from
The findings, which have been
published in the Journal for Nature
Conservation, show 1052 animal
encounters and 108 deaths along
The eastern long-necked turtles
accounted for 98 of those deaths.
Lead author and PhD candidate
at the University of Canberra,
Bruno Ferronato, said the
researchers believed this was the
first study to look in detail at how
conservation fences impacted non-
target, native reptile populations.
"We were doing a project in
Gungahlin and we saw some
animals walking along the fence,''
"We thought it would be
interesting to monitor the fence.''
Researchers from the university's
institute for applied ecology and the
University of North Carolina
monitored the pest-exclusion fence
at Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve
for 16 months to examine the
impact of the fence on indigenous
"We found that populations of
non-target native reptile species
inside and outside of the reserve
had their movements restricted by
the fence, with the impact most
severe for turtles," Mr Ferronato
The most common cause of death
for the turtles along the pest-
exclusion fence was overheating.
A small number of shingleback
lizards, eastern bearded dragon
lizards and eastern brown snakes
were also killed by the fence.
Researchers estimate the
11.5-kilometre fence, established in
2009, caused the death of about
3 per cent of the turtles within the
Mr Ferronato said although
researchers focused on a single
conservation fence, they believe the
impact of fences on non-target
species is widespread in Australia
"The fence has its goals and is
working well but we need to think
of mitigations for these other
species,'' he said. "We have
identified hotspots where we see
more turtles. If we can build an
underwater passage this would stop
the feral pests going in but would
allow the turtles to swim under.''
3 - Tuesday, February 24, 2015
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