European red foxes were first introduced to Australia for recreational hunting in 1855. The spread of foxes across southern Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s coincided with regional extinctions of several species such as Bettong, Greater bilby, Numbat, Bridled nail-tail wallaby and Quokka. The Northern Beaches Council is responsible for control programs in our parks and bushland but you can also help keep the fox population down.
Why are foxes a problem?
Foxes are opportunistic by nature and have adapted well to urbanisation. Foxes are skilled hunters and pose a major threat to the survival of many species of native animals. Ground-nesting birds, lizards and small to medium-sized mammals are especially at risk including Swamp wallaby, Ringtail possum, Southern brown bandicoot, Long-nosed bandicoot and Little penguin. Foxes are responsible for killing domestic animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens. They can also carry a number of diseases and parasites that may be transmitted to dogs. Foxes have the ability to spread weed species that they feed on.
Fox control programs
The fox control program aims to protect native and domestic animals. Activities include monitoring, culling, scientific surveys of native animals and community education. The program has been highly successful with native animals now returning to areas where they were once considered locally extinct. For further information on control programs contact Northern Beaches Council.
How are foxes controlled?
Foxes are controlled by shooting, baiting, trapping, fumigation and fencing. Due to safety and legal requirements there may be limitations on which techniques are able to be used to effectively control foxes in our residential areas, parks and reserves.
The fox baiting program involves the use of 1080 poison baits. The community is notified about baiting programs through local newspapers, letters and signage at reserves. The baits are buried in bushland reserves after confirmed fox activity. Strict procedures are followed for baiting to minimise the risk to other animals and domestic pets. If you own a pet, take extra precautions to ensure your animal does not enter reserves during baiting periods.
Reporting fox sightings
Fox sightings, signs of fox activity, den locations and attacks on native or domestic animals can be reported into FoxScan. FoxScan is a free resource for residents, community groups, local Councils, and other land managers to record and report fox sightings and control activities. Council's Invasive species Team receives an alert when an entry is made into FoxScan. The information in FoxScan will assist with planning fox control activities and to notify the community when and where foxes are active.
What can you do?
There are a number of steps you can take to assist to reduce fox problems. Never feed foxes or leave food scraps or pet food outside overnight. Keep bin lids closed and use enclosed compost bins. Ensure chicken coops and rabbit hutches are fox-proof and secure animals overnight. Prevent access to the underneath of buildings. Remove weeds that provide food and shelter, such as blackberries, and collect fallen fruit around fruit trees. Join a volunteer Bushcare group and help protect the habitat of native animals at risk from foxes.
Sydney North Vertebrate Pest Committee
Sydney North Vertebrate Pest Committee was established in 1998. The group comprises of key land managers from across the Sydney North Region including 11 local government agencies, National Parks and Wildlife, Local Land Services, Forestry NSW, Sydney Water, Taronga Zoo and Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. The aim of the group is to share information, raise awareness, educate agency members and the community and develops the skill required to manage feral animals including foxes.
Foxes and the law
Predation by the European Red Fox is listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 pest animals are any species (other than native species) that present a biosecurity threat. The Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan identifies foxes as a biosecurity threat in our region and outlines actions land managers can take to minimise their risk and impacts.
The Australian Government, in consultation with the states and territories, has developed the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the European Red Fox.
Find out more about foxes from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.