Joep, Loes and Tim will go goose hunting in the coming months. The three musketeers? The top shooters of the hunting club? No, they are three foxes. One of them was caught by Tim Breur, a Forest and Nature Management student, and named after him. It was given a transmitter and then set free.
Chasing the birds away or shooting them have been found to be ineffective. The Fauna Funds now wants to work together with Mulder-Natuurlijk Bureau and Savon Bird Research to find out if engaging the Greylag Goose's natural enemy - the fox - will achieve better results.
During his internship, student Tim Breur helped to catch foxes in the Gelderse Poort nature reserve near to Nijmegen. The animals had a collar put around their necks and were released again.
In the months to come, Breur will be helping to count Greylag Geese and to look for and monitor their eggs. Later on in the brooding season, counting of geese families with goslings will be done weekly. Breur: 'I will research into which types of goose nests have become more vulnerable to predators. But I won't have anything to do with the foxes anymore.' The data from Tim's research and the information from the collars of Joep, Loes and Tim will be used to find out whether and to what extent the fox can affect the brooding success of the Greylag Goose.
The field work is very varied, says Breur. 'One moment, you go out in the middle of the night to catch foxes, and now, I'm looking for goose nests. Today, you're in a wetsuit trudging through mud and tomorrow you're walking among the reeds.' This attracted the attention of television programme EenVandaag, which did a feature on the foxes. Breurs' '15 minutes of fame' were over very quickly: 'I happened to be around with the fox which we had caught. You can't even hear me talking.'
Tim Breur with 'his' fox.
The research is in fact in a preliminary stage. The researchers have to find out first if it is feasible to carry out research into the influence of the fox on brooding geese. If this can be done, Fauna Funds wants to broaden the scope of the research into using the fox as a natural counteragent against the Greylag Goose.
The fragment from EenVandaag: