After years of controversy, the Tasmanian Government is winding back its fox eradication program after finding no evidence of the pests for two years.
The Government's controversial government program of laying 1080 poison baits to wipe out the elusive pest is being scrapped.
It says the fox taskforce will now shift its focus to monitoring reported sightings, meaning more than 20 contractors will lose their jobs.
Tasmania's fox hunt has discovered carcasses and droppings since it began 16 years ago, but a live animal has never been trapped.
The Parks and Environment Minister, Brian Wightman, says scaling back the program will improve its efficiency.
"We all know that prevention is far better than cure but now, after two years of not having substantive evidence, it's time to move from a precautionary approach," he said.
"If there are confirmed sightings, then we will bait for foxes."
The eradication program has cost taxpayers more than $30 million.
Many argue foxes have never arrived in the state, while others describe the eradication program as overkill.
Wildlife pathologist, David Obendorf, says there is no longer public confidence in the baiting program.
"We've gone past the stage where Tasmania can continue to bait vast areas of Tasmania that are considered core fox habitat on the basis that they think there's foxes there," he said.
The cash-strapped State Government says its decision is based on evidence and a report that has not been made public, although it recently said fox eradication also depends on federal funding.
It says the 24 contractors whose jobs will be axed are set to finish at the end of the month.
Public Sector Union spokesman, Tom Lynch, says it shows the Government has bowed to its critics.
"There is a great risk to Tasmania's future in the government deciding to back away from the plan that was put in place by scientists who know about foxes and how to eradicate them and I think it is a highly risky strategy," he said.
Wildlife biologist Nick Mooney, who helped establish the eradication program, says it appears the government is reacting to fear about the poison baits.
"The risk is the monitoring is not sufficient to find the foxes that are there and then we make a mistake by judging there are no foxes," he said.
The new job of the fox taskforce will be to search for droppings.
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