A VICTORIAN farmer has warned Tasmanians foxes are an invisible menace that can wreak havoc on the environment.
Bounty hunter Chris Gitsham said there only needed to be a couple of foxes to end up with "a helluva lot", The Mercury reports.
"They take lambs, chooks, native animals, but mostly lambs, which are bitten around the throat ... with birds they often take the head off," he said.
The warning comes after new scientific research found foxes were widespread, and experts called for greater action to eradicate the pests.
Mr Gitsham and shooting partner Allan Free use spotlights and kill four to six foxes a night in the peak season.
"In a bad year we lost 30 per cent of our lambs and shot 80 foxes around one mob of sheep," said Mr Gitsham, of Lalbert in north-west Victoria.
"If they have the smallest sense of something out of the ordinary they'll look straight at you.
"They are very elusive and often fairly cunning. They're not something you'd see walking around in the day."
A study detailing fox populations, reported in the Mercury yesterday, reignited debate about the fox program.
Since the Victorian bounty of $10 a mask the face of the fox was brought in a year ago, 127,000 have been collected.
Mr Gitsham said the money went towards ammunition and fuel but he would shoot foxes anyway as a hobby.
Victorian Sporting Shooters Association hunting and conservation manager Colin Wood said when foxes were in low numbers they were much more wary.
"They seem to have an extra sense," he said.
"When they're trying to establish themselves they keep out of public view."
Tasmanian Patrick Moss, who was a shooter in Queensland, said he had seen a fox near Collinsvale several years ago.
"I saw it at night time ... in a big open paddock. Those idiots who say we don't see them ... you won't see foxes. They are very sly, very smart. But 1080's not the answer, I've seen too many good dogs die from it. Even trap- ping is hard because they can smell you," Mr Wood said.
Veterinary pathologist David Obendorf said there was no sound scientific proof of foxes in Tasmania.
"The process just hasn't been rigorous. And that study was drawing on the same evidence," Dr Obendorf said.
He said if the Government took the threat seriously it would make baiting compulsory, not leaving out vast Midlands properties.
Opossum Bay resident Penelope Marshall wants to raise $24,000 to bring fox hunter Eddie Juras to Tasmania.
"Now is the best time, November to January. It would be a proper, thorough investigation," Mrs Marshall said.