If you found a fox poo in a paddock in Tasmania, would you think there was a fox in the vicinity somewhere?
Mr. Rist is the most vocal of a small band of conspiracy theorists that seem to believe a faecal fooler is at work. He is an ardent critic of the people charged with ridding Tasmania of foxes: the Fox Eradication Branch of the Department of Primary Industries and Water. For years, Mr. Rist has written to newspapers throughout the island State dismissing fox sightings and fox carcasses and calling for disbanding the effort. Constantly calling for evidence of foxes in the state, he is the first to dismiss it when it doesn't agree with him.
His claims are looking more desperate as he struggles to dismiss the findings of foxes scats, confirmed by DNA testing at the University of Canberra. It's pretty easy to dismiss sightings, even if there have been hundreds of them. It's harder to dismiss carcasses but Mr Rist can do that - "planted" he usually screams. (And I do mean screams: on one site he generally gives about one third of the posts, roundly abusing anyone that disagrees with him, and exhausting other commentators by almost always having the last post on the topic).
But how do you dismiss fox scats? Well, you need to dismiss the obvious: that a Tasmanian fox scat came from a Tasmanian fox bum. You also need an alternate explanation so hatch a conspiracy. A Faecal Fooler. Maybe several Scat Scammers. Heaven help us if there is a plethora of Poo Plagiarists out there!
I should stop here because surely no one needs an explanation of how silly this conspiracy theory is? But let's point out some of the weaknesses in the theory:
Firstly, it's surprisingly hard to find a fox scat in the wild (see earlier post). You have to be motivated. So if you are gathering fox poos for export to Tasmania, you'd need a bit of time and energy. Maybe the Dodgy Dumpster has trained a dog to help, or found a fox marking site.
Secondly, it's a weird thing to do. I reckon if I took up Shit Shifting my wife would stop me. She might even have me see someone about my affliction.
Thirdly, the Faecal Faker doesn't know where DPIW staff are going to look. So they've got to shift a lot of shit. They've got to become a bit of a "Johnny Scatseed" and sprinkle it all over the State. Gives a new meaning to the Apple Isle.
When I put the silliness of his position to him, the crap conspirator stuck to his guns "the detection of fox-DNA positive scat in Tasmania in the absence of any other crroborating (sic) evidence does not and cannot preclude the liklihood (sic) that fox scats were planted at the sites where they were found." Mind you, if sightings, tracks and carcasses are not corroborating, what would be?
So he really believes someone is planting poo? I'm not sure why this guy is so angry all the time at the staff of DPIW trying their best to face up to a really serious and worrying conservation issue. Why wouldn't he direct his angst to the Poo Planter?
In other web posts, Mr Rist hints that he will reveal all at an upcoming Public Accounts Committee Inquiry by the Parliament of Tasmania. I personally couldn't wait if I knew. Or maybe these claims are just full of crap?
The evidence points to a small population of foxes resident in Tasmania. The Tasmanian and Federal Governments deserve praise for trying to protect what mainland Australia has already lost.