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Fox - Vulpes vulpes

  

Biology and Ecology: 3 colour morphs (red, silver or black and cross) are generally recognised worldwide, the red morph is most common in Australia. They generally have throat and abdomen are white, lower legs and ears are black and a bushy tail is tipped in white. Body length can range from 45 to 90cm and body mass from 3 to 14kg. 

Breeding: In Australia, breeding occurs between June and October. Litter sizes range from 1 to 12, with average litter sizes being 3 to 6 pups. Litter sizes can increase with higher food availability and with age of females. 

Habitat: Foxes occur in a variety of habitat types, including arctic tundra, desert, temperate forests, boreal forests, meadows, grasslands, agricultural and urban environments. They attain their highest densities in human-dominated habitats. Foxes are not found in tropical climates. 

Diet: The red fox is primarily carnivorous; an opportunistic and skilled predator they prey on a variety of species (birds, reptiles, medium and small mammals), but they are also an effective scavenger, consuming carrion and rubbish from humans, and a range of fruits, vegetables, eggs and insects when they are seasonally available. When the blackberries are fruiting you may see fox scat consisting mostly of blackberries.

Current Australian distribution: Red foxes were introduced into Australia in the 1850s and have spread across 76% of the continent, except the far tropical north. The fox has recently been introduced to Tasmania. 

Economic Impacts: Red foxes pose a large threat to livestock, as they prey on poultry and lambs. The total annual cost of foxes to Australia’s environment and economy is estimated to be $227.5 million. In high density areas, they may also be a health risk to humans and pets, through transmission of diseases such as distemper, parvo virus and mange. 

Environmental Impacts: 

Red foxes are a primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized rodent and marsupial species in Australia. They also prey on many bird species, including the ground dwelling mallee fowl. 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 2 amphibians4. 

Social Impacts: The main social impacts of red foxes are not direct impacts, but rather ow out of the economic and environmental impacts. However, some direct social impacts can occur. Examples include psychological distress caused by fox predation on household pets, poultry and livestock, and trauma from vehicle accidents. The increasing diversity of rural land use and rural residents may also cause intra-community conflicts. 

Strategies for control 

‘One-off’ or reactionary control programs may kill a few foxes in the short term but there is little change in fox population numbers and the level of fox damage over the long term. Similar or even more funds are required in following years to address the same problem. 

The solution is an integrated fox management plan which takes a long term, landscape approach to controlling the impact of foxes. Integrated fox management is a planned approach, with clear aims, realistic levels of management, and the ability to monitor and evaluate the outcomes. You take advantage of the fox biology ‘weak spots’, and use your resources more efficiently and effectively, resulting in a long term impact on foxes and the damage they cause and maximising the outcomes for the prey species. 

Generally, no single strategy or control technique will completely remove foxes from an area, so integrated fox management relies on a combination of strategies and techniques to keep on top of the fox problem. 

Strategies for control

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Leg- hold and cage traps

a very affective control technique for small and peri-urban sites. very focused and less harmful to non target species. 

Contract shooting

spotlighting and shooting around larger properties is the main way most people get rid of nuisance foxes, this is good with other techniques as well to cover all possible outcomes. 

Ground baiting

Using 1080 baiting is a cost affective way to control foxes. 

if used by the label recommendations and with the supervision from licensed contractors it is a good tool to use for long term control.

Canid pest ejectors

New to the market, this is a very focused and effective way of controlling foxes.

it uses a spring loaded 1080 liquid capsule to focus the liquid into the foxes mouth when the bait is taken.

Exclusion fencing / fox proofing

I can help design a system to help fox proof your property and safe guard your  pets and livestock