Foxes are a widespread and destructive agricultural pest that cause significant environmental and financial damage. They are widely distributed throughout Australia, except for the tropical north.
MLA’s current investment in this area is largely through its support of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) to ensure a coordinated, multi-species approach to ethical pest control.
MLA’s prior investment in this area supported specific fox control research projects, including work on aerial and ground baiting rates, studies of ‘spray tunnel’ technology and a collaborative research program led through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to develop and ultimately commercialise the next-generation para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) baits.
- European red foxes were introduced into Australia for hunting in the mid-1800s and have spread across 76% of the continent.
- Of the threatened species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, foxes are considered a threat to 14 species of birds, 48 mammals, 12 reptiles and two amphibians.
- In 2016, a koala researcher working on the NSW Liverpool Plains inadvertently videoed foxes climbing trees to a height of 4m, apparently in search of prey. It was the first documented evidence that foxes present a threat to Australia’s arboreal species, as well as terrestrial ones.
Impact of foxes in Australia
Foxes can affect livestock enterprises as they:
- contribute to lamb losses
- are potential hosts of diseases
- are Australia's top predators and threaten several native animals.
As foxes are highly mobile and efficient breeders, one-off or reactionary control programs are ineffective in the long term.
Successful fox management relies on the coordinated delivery of a combination of strategies, such as baiting, shooting and trapping.
Working in a pest control group with your neighbours is the best option. Ask your local agriculture or land services department for information about group control programs in your area.
PestSmart’s Glovebox Guide for Managing Foxes recommends using integrated pest management to avoid unintended consequences of fox control.
For example, rabbits are a major food source for foxes. Controlling foxes without also controlling rabbits can lead to an increase in rabbit numbers, which can then allow for a speedier recovery of the fox population.
The PestSmart website also contains detailed Standard Operating Procedures for control methods, including:
- ground baiting with 1080
- aerial baiting with 1080
- ground shooting
- fumigating dens using carbon monoxide
- trapping using padded-jaw traps
- trapping using cage traps
- baiting with PAPP.
Record and map sightings of foxes, fox damage and control activities in your local area using the FoxScan website or app.
The local data can help you decide where to undertake control and coordinate with your neighbours.