Invasive red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are a serious conservation issue for Australia's freshwater turtle species, including the endangered Bell's turtle (Myuchelys bellii). As many as 96% of Australian freshwater turtle nests may be depredated in a season by foxes. Current methods of turtle nest protection rely on early detection of nesting activity, followed by nest-specific structures to prevent predation. An alternative method to provide protection against fox raiding was tested: nesting refuge structures based on a design successfully used in the United States to protect diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) nests. Six wood and chicken wire structures were placed at different sites beside large riverine pools on the Macdonald and Gwydir rivers, northeastern New South Wales, Australia, in the summers of 2019–2020 and 2020–2021. Sites were chosen for known previous nesting activity or presence of mature females, and each structure was placed in typical Bell's turtle nesting habitat at known nesting sites. Prior to placement, the soil was tilled with a rotary hoe to make the interior of the structure more enticing as nesting habitat, because Bell's turtles had been previously seen to nest in disturbed soils. Although females did approach the structures and in one case entered, no females were recorded nesting inside. Further, severe flooding in both years damaged and/or displaced 4 of the 6 structures. Rigid nest protection structures were therefore not shown to be an effective nest protection method for this species, despite their success in other regions for other species. Negative results such as these are important for conservation studies because they guide conservation efforts away from expending limited resources on ineffective methods and strategies.

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