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Fox samples sought

Fox samples sought

Fox hunters in the Victorian gold mining regions are being called on to help with a university study into arsenic impact on wildlife.

Monash University students are collecting hair samples as an indicator of exposure to arsenic. Their goal is to identify if there is a relationship between arsenic concentrations in wildlife hair, and arsenic concentrations in soil.

“Foxes are an ideal focus species as they are already culled in wide numbers, providing large sample availability,” said student Jacqui Wakefield.

“As a result, the team is looking to get in touch with any fox hunters who could help. They are looking to collect both fox hairs and soil samples from the same location or property that the fox originated from.”

She said arsenic is a major health risk to humans, but the impact on wildlife is not currently understood.

“Arsenic contamination occurs across Australia but is significantly elevated around gold mining regions. For this reason, the team is focusing their research efforts on the wider Bendigo-Ballarat region.”

The team is looking for dead foxes and location data (like a GPS coordinate) from where the fox was taken so they can collect a soil sample.

“If anyone is going out fox hunting in the next few weeks, or has a few stashed in the freezer or on a fence we would love to hear from you,” Ms Wakefield said.

She can be contacted at jrwak1@student.monash.edu.