Find out more about fox control within the City of Whittlesea
Foxes are one of Australia’s most serious pest animals and are estimated to cost the environment and economy $28 million per annum.
Red foxes are a declared established pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act. This means that all land owners must take all reasonable steps to prevent their spread and eradicate them where possible.
Red foxes have been identified as the primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized rodent and marsupial species. They also prey on many bird species. The extinction of many ground-dwelling native species has been due to fox predation.
This has led to Fox predation being identified as a key threatening process in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This means that they threaten the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of a native species and/or ecological community.
The fox also causes significant loss of production to farmers by preying on newborn lambs, kid goats and poultry.
Red foxes are widespread throughout Victoria. For this reason, fox control is best achieved by using a combination of control measures and by working across a landscape, involving the whole community, rather than just individual properties.
The best results are achieved where neighbours conduct control activities simultaneously. Work on your property can be undermined by the inaction of your neighbours. Talk to your neighbours and local Landcare group to work out a plan for coordinated action
Red foxes have long, sharp teeth, very quick reflexes and kill by multiple bites around the head and neck. Birds such as poultry may only have the head and neck eaten. Lambs typically have their tail, ears and tongues eaten and often the chest cavity is opened to eat internal organs. Lambs and calves sometimes have their tongues eaten by foxes and sheep or cows can have teats or vulvas chewed off.
They cause significant distress and suffering to the animals they kill.
Foxes exhibit surplus killing behaviour. Meaning they kill more than they need, often burying the surplus in caches.
Rabbits can make up a large part of the fox’s diet, for this reason it is important to consider rabbit control programs in conjunction with your fox control program. Controlling foxes without also controlling rabbits can lead to an increase in rabbit numbers.
Historically, pest animal control has focussed on killing as many pests as cheaply as possible. Many of the methods that have been utilised in the past have been far from humane. The expectation is now that animal suffering associated with pest animal management is minimised. This means selecting methods of control that do not cause undue stress and suffering to the target animal.
The most commonly used fox control techniques are lethal baiting, shooting, trapping, den fumigation and exclusion fences.
Lethal baiting is considered to be the most effective method of fox control currently available; however not all poisons are equally humane. Non-target animals can also be exposed to poisons.
Baiting programs have been shown to be most effective when done twice a year. This causes maximum disruption to both the breeding (late winter/spring) and migration (autumn) stages of the fox’s life cycle.
This is considered the most efficient, humane and species-specific pesticide available. It is incorporated into fresh, dried or processed meat baits.
Developed as an alternative to 1080 poison and is subject to the same restrictions. Dogs and foxes are highly susceptible to PAPP and die in shorter time than if they ingested 1080. Levels of PAPP residue in a carcass are sufficiently low to prevent secondary poisoning by a scavenging non-target animal. Should poisoning occur, Methylene blue is an effective antidote if administered with 30 minutes of a non-target animal ingesting a bait.
Shooting can be a humane method of destroying foxes when it is carried out by an experienced, skilled and responsible shooter. Head shots are the preferred point of aim and wounded foxes must be located and dispatched as quickly as possible.
If lactating vixens are shot, reasonable efforts should be made to find dependent cubs and kill them quickly and humanely.
Shooting can reduce fox impacts at the property level, however it causes changes in fox behavior and so as a stand alone action will not contribute to sustained long term reduction in fox impacts.
Carbon monoxide is the only registered fumigant for foxes. It kills via oxygen depletion leading to unconsciousness and death without pain or discomfort.
When fumigating a natal den, cubs must be over 4 weeks old in order to ensure a rapid death.
All traps have the potential to cause injury and distress and should only be used when no practical alternative exists. Traps that contain an animal cause fewer injuries than traps that restrain an animal.
Importantly non-target animals that are caught in a cage trap can be released unharmed. Leg hold traps however can cause serious injuries to both target and non-target animals.
Can be useful for the protection of threatened wildlife species and other valuable animals. This is a humane method of mitigating fox impacts but can be cost prohibitive for broad scale applications and does not contribute to reducing fox numbers across the landscape.