In 1998, May 31st, a lone fox did exit from a container shipping vessel at Burnie Port. Many witnesses.

In May 2001 another single fox escaped from a (machinery) container at Agfest, Carrick. Witnesses. This same fox was seen several days later on Illawarra Road, Longford, only 5km away. It was seen by well known, respected, wildlife authority Chris Spencer (ex NPWS). This was the catalyst for the following events and on the 20th June 2001 a Police and DPIW Ministerial briefing was conducted.

I have never doubted these two incursions(Burnie and Agfest) and have always believed the incursion by shipping routes is a day to day possibility.

Information was given to the Minister that two lots of fox cubs – 8 in one lot and 11 in another – were smuggled in, reared and released. A subsequent Police investigation involving (7) seven detectives did not uncover one single piece of evidence to corroborate these allegations. Letters confirming that no evidence had been discovered to corroborate the allegations were forwarded on 13th July 2001 and 17th July 2001 to the Deputy Commissioner of Police and subsequently to the Minister. Nevertheless, this importation theory has been and remains the foundation for the explanation of how foxes arrived in Tasmania. At the time the information given to the Minister was incorrect, but the Minister had NO option but to act and he acted appropriately at that time.

This fox cub import theory has been used in NPWS, STATE LIBRARY, DPIW and the schools’ Outwit, Outfox, Outplay fox ELS Material.

However, seven long years have passed without one single fox being recovered by shooting, trapping, poisoning or even being photographed by remote infrared cameras put at every “hotspot”.

The so-called fox evidence presented has always broken down both scientifically and pathologically. Examples:

(Fox) footprints found at Woodstock Lagoon in 2001 (10 days after famous Longford fox photo) proved to be from a whippet dog belonging to farmer Jamie Cox. (July 2001), Skin of famous Longford photo fox mailed anonymously to DPIW in Launceston was DNA tested and matched to the Symmons Plains shot fox (September 2001) as siblings. However, I now know the Longford fox (photo/skin) was a hoax and the names of the persons involved. For 4 years the Government allowed this DNA matching to be relied upon as conclusive evidence. However a senior DPIW official admitted to me in an internet forum and in a newspaper (Southern) years later that indeed the Longford fox was a HOAX. However, in the interim, gut samples removed from the Symmons Plains fox and analysed by an unqualified non pathologist officer of the department were said to have contained an endemic Tasmanian long tailed mouse (NOT found in the Symmons Plains area). Samples of fur alleged to have come from this gut content were sent to a mainland expert who confirmed that the skin did come from a Tasmanian long tailed mouse. Evidence provided to me in 2002-2003 led me to believe that the Symmons Plains fox was shot at Geelong in Victoria. I have given a sworn statement to Tasmania Police to that effect.

On the 12th September 2002 the ABC Catalyst program featured a story on how the foxes arrived in Tasmania…the narration began 2 years ago, a group of environmental vandals committed an unthinkable crime. They hand reared up to 19 (11 plus 8) fox cubs and released them into the previously fox free Tasmanian wilderness.
These are the same 19 fox cubs referred to in the Tasmania Police letters of 13th and 17th July 2001.

The program even showed footage of foxes being release from cages to simulate a release into the Tasmanian environment.

Either catalyst were lied to, didn’t do adequate research, or both.

This Catalyst program was taken to task in the Parliament by the MLC member for Murchison Tony Fletcher on the 26th September 2002. The Upper House Hansard of the 26th September 2002 confirms this.

The October 2003 Burnie “roadkill” fox discovered by an anonymous cyclist (who had ‘phoned Police) on the main road outside Burnie Mitsubishi was never tested and proven to be a resident fox. If indeed DNA testing was carried out the results were never publicly released. The animal had not eaten for 6-7 days which indicated it had been contained. It had been killed by several blows to the skull.

The Lillico fox cub remains (February 2006) were discovered after another anonymous cyclist claimed to have seen a small freshly killed fox cub on the road at the Lillico Penguin Observation site on Christmas Day 2005. However, the cyclist did not report it until their return to Canberra 2 months later. The Task Force converged on Lillico and scraped the matchbox-sized remains out of the bitumen. Subsequent testing proved it to be fox material.

No follow up evidence in the form of siblings, parents, natal dens, scats or photographs were obtained from this site. This is just not possible. I suggest the fox cub arrived at Lillico by other means.

In May 2006 a chicken kill occurred at a property at Old Beach, Hobart. The Task Force was called in to monitor. Five (5) days later blood spots were discovered and tested and shown to contain fox DNA.

However, no photographs of foxes or any other conclusive scientific evidence was obtained. The chickens were tested and found to have dog (canine) saliva on them but no fox (vulpine) saliva. This was written up in five different stories in a southern newspaper as a full fledged fox attack.

Later it was discovered that fox urine products had been used at this site and could have contaminated DNA Testing of the blood.

On the 1st August 2006, three agricultural workers were going to work on the Glen Esk Road Conara. The lead driver in a spreader looked down and saw an animal on the side of the road, he spoke to his boss by radio following him and asked him to look at the animal. The animal was a dead fox. This animal was reported as the “real deal” “dead certain” still warm evidence. However, subsequent pathology tests revealed the animal had been killed 24 hours or more earlier (previous day). What complicates this incident is that on the 3rd August 2006 a senior manager of the DPIW released a press statement saying that a driver had come forward and although he wanted to remain anonymous he believed he had killed the fox. At 9.30am approx the fox ran out from the LH side of the road and was struck by a LH tyre and killed. He stopped, saw it was a fox and continued on his way not wanting to be involved in controversy. The problem is, the nominated driver,  JL, was present and interviewed on the morning of 1st August and said nothing then about running over a fox. WHY NOT?? He was one of the three agricultural workers that discovered the fox. Strange coincidence, but this fox was discovered the very day two branches of the Task Force were to close. Two task force personnel were only minutes away delivering a field stripped vehicle back to Launceston and were first on the scene.

I now know that this fox was not killed at that Glen Esk Road site and I also know the names of the persons involved. I will be testifying to that under oath at the upcoming Public Accounts Committee inquiry.

Seven long years have not produced one single fox from Tasmania, Not shot from the 10,000 plus spotlight permits in force and the 40,000 plus hunters, not poisoned from 250,000 plus 1080 meat baits laid, not trapped and most damning, not photographed from the thousands and thousands of images taken from remote infrared cameras located at Tasmania fox “hotspots”.

I believe the evidence so far provided is what is known as easily transportable evidence. I personally transported three fox carcasses back from the mainland in 2003 and showed them to Minister Green and convinced him how easy it was. Before the misinformed jump up and down, it is NOT illegal to bring in dead foxes or parts thereof…. It happens on a regular basis for trophies and taxidermy etc, as long as there is no gut, livers or fruit/vegetable material in the fox it is perfectly legal.

Over fifteen hundred “fox” sightings have been recorded in Tasmania. Not one of these sightings have been substantiated, I have no doubt many of these sightings have been reported in good faith. I have been mistaken on two occasions and thought I had seen a fox, both these were later proven to be large ginger feral cats.

There have been in excess of 4,000 Thylacine “sightings” since the last one died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936, however not one of these sightings has been substantiated either.
I have personally shot many foxes in Europe and on mainland Australia, both by calling up of a day and spotlighting of a night. They are not easy by day but are relatively easy of a night with a spotlight. The eyeshine signature is unmistakable and is quite obvious.

I look forward to the upcoming PAC inquiry.

Ian Rist

4th January 2009
I believe the Tasmanian fox issue is based on 2% fact and 98% speculation, hoaxing and fabrication. Reasons being: