By Chris and Catherine
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a pest which was introduced to Australia from Europe in 1855 for hunting purposes. Populations of foxes in the wild became established in 1870. It took less than 100 years for the foxes to spread across most parts of Australia.
The red fox has had a major, negative impact on Australia since its population increased to uncontrollable proportions. The Red Fox has played a major role in the decline of the population of ground-nesting birds, small mammals and reptiles. It is also thought to be the main cause of population decrease for many threatened species. The Red Fox also poses an economic threat to many farmers by preying on their vulnerable farm stock such as lambs and chooks. It is also a carrier of rabies, a disease which affects mostly dogs but can be passed on to humans, livestock and native mammals.
The government has employed tactics such as bounties in order to reduce the population of the Red Fox. In 2002 the government introduced 24 collection points were people could hand in fox tails in order to receive a $10 reward. In the first year there was 150 822 fox tails handed in. The program was evaluated after the first year and found that the program was ineffective in reducing the fox numbers and so the program was scrapped in mid 2003.
The most effective methods of culling Red Foxes are…
- Lethal baiting
- Den fumigation
- Den destruction
Exclusion fencing is another effective strategy but it is extremely expensive and un-suitable for farmers.