Tasmania hopes to become the largest island in the world to eradicate foxes after biologists revealed that several hundred could be breeding there. Rumours that the island had been invaded by the unwelcome predators have circulated for years, but it was confirmed only earlier this year that they have established a breeding population. There are fears they will devastate rare native mammals that have already been driven close to extinction on the Australian mainland, such as bandicoots, bettongs and quolls. Frogs, blue-tongue lizards, pademelons - a type of small wallaby - and penguins are among the 80 other species that also would be at grave risk. The Tasmanian government launched a A$56 million (HK$333.65 million), 10-year campaign to eradicate foxes. It estimates foxes could cost farmers and the ecotourism industry A$20 million a year. 'This is an avoidable catastrophe which I am determined will not be visited on our island,' Primary Industries Minister David Llewellyn said. The public will be recruited to carry out surveys of where foxes are living by looking for their droppings. The animals will then be hunted down and destroyed, either by trapping, shooting, den fumigation or poison baiting. It is thought foxes were either deliberately introduced to Tasmania as an act of ecological sabotage, or arrived on ships.