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Sly Fox That Evaded Capture for Five Years Is Finally Caught

After a 5-year mission to hunt down a fox wreaking havoc on plans to reintroduce native plants and animals to New South Wales, Australia, the predator named Rambo is officially gone.

Rambo was quite a sly fox and evaded “10,400 traps, 3,500 baits, 73 stakeouts, 55 days of scent-tracking dogs, and 97 infrared cameras filming 40 hours a week,” The Guardian wrote. After all that, he appears to have perished in one of two floods that hit the area last year.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy reported Rambo’s evident demise on March 14, saying that staff had an “eradication celebration.”

“We’re all experiencing this unusual feeling of excitement, joy and disappointment because the team put much time and effort into this sizeable chase, only to have the fox leave on his own accord,” Wayne Sparrow, head of the chase for Rambo, said in a press release from the AWC. “At the end of the day, we needed the fox gone, one way or another. We have the result we need, and we can move forward with reintroducing new species and the whole project will progress.”

Red foxes were smuggled into Australia for recreational trophy hunting nearly 200 years ago, and are predators to native species. Rambo derailed efforts to reintroduce endangered bilbies—adorable furry creatures that look a bit like a cross between a rabbit and an anteater—and several other native animals that need a predator-free environment upont reintroduction. 

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy erected an intense, predator-free fence several years ago to reintroduce bilbies, bridled nail-tail wallabies (which look a bit like kangaroos), and the brush-tailed bettong, also called brush-tailed rat kangaroos (and for good reason) into a smaller area. Now that Rambo is gone, these animals will be set free to roam a larger wild space. The AWC will also—finally—be able to work on reintroducing several more species.

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