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Foxes

Why are foxes a problem?

Foxes were introduced to mainland Australia to mainland Australia in the 1850's and are major predators of lambs, poultry, kid goats and native wildlife. They also spread weed seeds including blackberry and lantana.

Foxes are a host species for a number of diseases which affect domestic dogs such as parvovirus, distemper, mange and hydatids. In Australia, foxes would be an ideal host and reservoir for rabies.

Signs of foxes

Foxes live in dens or in the undergrowth of shrubs including blackberry and lantana. Signs of foxes around your property:

  • missing / dead animals (chickens and stock)
  • fox faeces
  • foot prints
  • dens
  • sightings—day and night

What can you do to control foxes?

  • never feed foxes
  • always bring leftover pet food in at night as foxes will readily scavenge food left outside
  • cover all garbage and compost bins.

It is important to observe the impacts caused by foxes and focus your control effort at particular periods when stock or wildlife maybe vulnerable. For example, undertake fox baiting shortly before lambing.

Foxes are a declared pest under the Local Land Services Act 2013 and all land managers are obliged to control foxes on their land.

Poisoning

  • 1080 is currently the only poison registered in NSW for the control of foxes. 1080 poison is a restricted chemical product and requires users to hold a chemical users certificate. Your local Hunter LLS Biosecurity Ranger can assist you to obtain training if you do not currently hold a certificate.
  • 1080 is regulated by a Pesticide Control Order and baiting programs need to be implemented in accordance with the requirements including minimum distances from neighbours, public notification and displaying signage. It is one of the most cost-effective ways of controlling foxes and best results are achieved when your neighbours and local community co-ordinate their efforts.
  • 1080 poison can be distributed in a number of different baits, including boneless red meat or offal, or in manufactured baits. Baits are generally placed along vehicle tracks and animal pads as these areas are preferred routes for foxes.
  • Ground baiting is most effective when carried out strategically and can be done on a small or large scale. Domestic pets, particularly dogs are very susceptible to 1080 poison.

Note that the implementation of fox control in urban or built up areas can be quite difficult as in most situations poisoning is not an option due to the restrictions placed on 1080 use.

Trapping

  • Can be done with the aid of mesh cage traps, or modified soft / rubber jawed leg hold traps
  • Lures are used to attract foxes, for example a urine based mixture or a carcass inside the mesh cage
  • Traps are useful around chicken enclosures and at holes in fences that are frequently used by foxes. They can be set continuously throughout the year particularly when predation is occurring.

Traps should be set by experienced people to avoid making any mistakes or creating 'trap shy' foxes.
Scent lures can be used to attract foxes to the immediate area the trap is set.

By law, traps must be checked every 24 hours and any foxes trapped must be euthanised humanely. If traps cannot be checked as required they must be deactivated. Any non-target animals accidently trapped must be released.

Other control methods

  • opportunistic ground shooting. If you have a firearms licence, shooting can be useful as a continuous control measure when controlling fox numbers and as a follow up method after baiting
  • use of guardian animals
  • electric fences may be useful for chicken pens. However, they are expensive and can be impractical for large areas
  • den fumigation

It is important to constantly look out for foxes after undertaking fox control as new foxes will recolonise areas previously inhabited by other foxes.

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Pest control order

The NSW Government introduced a pest control order (PCO) for the European Red Fox in 2014. This PCO applies across the State of NSW.

Under this order, Hunter Local Land Services can serve individual eradication orders to any owner or occupier requiring them to eradicate the pest using a method specified in the eradication order.

Hunter Local Land Services can also give approval for people or classes of people to keep this pest in captivity. People who currently keep foxes in captivity can apply to Hunter Local Land Services for a permit to continue to do so. This approval can be provided with conditions, depending on the individual circumstances. The PCO does not allow the keeping of newly acquired foxes.

Captive Fox Permits

In accordance with the pest control order, foxes can no longer be kept in captivity without a permit, nor are they allowed to be released into the wild, or rescued from the wild for adoption or rehoming.

Provisions were made in the PCO for people who kept an already existing fox(es) in captivity (prior to March 31, 2015). Owners of existing foxes can apply to their Local Lands Services office or via fox.permit@lls.nsw.gov.au for a permit to continue keeping these animal(s) in captivity.

The PCO prohibits the acquisition and keeping of new foxes, and therefore new cases of fox ownership or fox husbandry. Consequently, applications for a Captive European Red Fox Permit are available for a limited time

Applications are available from 2 November, 2015 until 31 January, 2016, after which time applications for a Captive European Red Fox Permit will no longer be available. Owners are urged to submit a permit application as soon as possible.

Under the Local Land Services Act 2013, penalties (fines) will apply for failure to comply with a PCO (50 penalty units or up to $8,500) and failure to register an existing pet fox (20 penalty units or up to $3,400 and removal of any non-permitted animal).

If you would like to enquire about the Captive European Red Fox Permit or request an application form, contact us on 1300 795 299 or email fox.permit@lls.nsw.gov.au