Feral Animals

Foxes in Australia

European Red Foxes were first introduced to Australia for recreational hunting in 1855. They have now spread throughout most of Australia.

The Fox factor

Foxes have adapted well to urbanisation,  are skilled hunters and the populations on the Northern Beaches have devastated many species of wildlife including birds, lizards and small mammals. Foxes are responsible for killing pets including cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens. Foxes can also carry a number of diseases and parasites that may be transmitted to dogs.

Fox tracks

The heel pad of the front foot is separated from the toe pads by hair. This distinguishes the tracks from those of dogs.

Why are Foxes a problem?

They pose a major threat to the survival of many species of native animals. Ground-nesting birds and small to medium-sized mammals are especially at risk. Native animals under pressure from foxes include:

  • Southern Brown Bandicoot
  • Ringtail Possum
  • Spotted-tail Quoll
  • Little Penguin
  • Pacific Black Ducklings
  • Long-nosed Bandicoot

Foxes also:

  • Prey on newborn lambs, goats and poultry, affecting the agricultural industry
  • Spread the noxious weeds Bitou Bush and Blackberry
  • Harass and kill domestic pets (guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens etc)

How are they controlled?

Foxes are controlled using shooting, poisoning and fencing. Baiting with 1080 is the most effective method. Strict procedures are followed for baiting e.g baits are buried underground to minimise the risk to animals other than foxes.

What is Northern Beaches Council doing to control foxes?

Council manages regional fox baiting program to ensure the recovery and protection of native animals in the long-term by depleting fox numbers over a wide area. Activities include coordination between councils to carry out monitoring, baiting, scientific surveys of native animals and community notification.

What you can do

  • If you see a fox or a fox den, email Northern Beaches Council and let them know. Or call Council on phone 02 9970 1111.
  • Never feed foxes or leave food scraps or pet food outside
  • Become familiar with the native animals under threat by foxes and let Council know if you sight them
  • Join a volunteer bushcare group and help protect the habitat of our native animals. Contact Northern Beaches Council’s Bushcare Officer to find out more.

What the law says about foxes

Predation by the European red fox is listed as a key threatening process under the:

  • Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

The Australian Government, in consultation with the states and territories, has developed the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox.