The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced for recreational hunting in Victoria in 1855. It was recognised as a pest within 30 years. It is classified as a category 3, 4, 5 and 6 pest animal under Queensland's Biosecurity Act 2014.
After the dingo and wild dog, the fox is the largest carnivorous mammal on mainland Australia. Native to the northern hemisphere, the fox is one of 11 canine species world-wide. Foxes have a pointed muzzle and red fur. Their skull is flattened and slender. They have large ears and bushy tails. An adult fox can weigh between 4.5 and 8 kilograms.
Where they live
Foxes are common in urban–rural fringe areas. On the Gold Coast, they have been captured in Helensvale, Robina, Arundel, Coombabah, Burleigh Beach and most suburbs west of the M1 motorway. They frequent areas where chickens are kept. The smell encourages them. Chickens are also vulnerable and easy to catch, so foxes readily take them for food.
Foxes usually scavenge for food around rubbish bins in parklands. They scavenge scraps in picnic and barbeque areas and dig in backyard compost heaps. During the day, they shelter in thick vegetation along gullies and creek banks, in hollow logs, under houses, in drain pipes and even old car bodies.
Foxes pose a serious threat to native wildlife and domestic animals. They are also potential carriers of the rabies virus. They are often seen with little or no fur. These foxes usually have mange, a condition that can also be transmitted to domestic and wild animals.
Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, it is the landowner's responsibility to manage foxes on their land. There are a number of ways to control foxes on your property. These include exclusion, trapping and property modification.
Lock up domestic animals and pets in a roofed enclosure, especially at night. Fencing can be costly, but it is the only reliable method to ensure animals are not entering your property.
The fence should be made of strong wire (foxes will chew through conventional chicken wire) with a gauge less than 7 centimetres, as they can push through gaps this size. The fence should be at least 1.5 metres high and dug into the ground at least 150 millimetres to prevent foxes digging under.
Foxes have been sighted climbing fencing to get to animals such as chickens, and then climbing back over with the animal in their mouth. Electrifying the fence top and bottom will reduce the likelihood of them getting onto the property. If the fence is not electrified, then it should have a return on the top to stop the fox from climbing over, or a roof placed over the top.
If the property is particularly large, fence a smaller area for the protection of stock and pets. As more chickens are free-ranged these days, foxes are adapting. They are sighted more often in the daytime than they used to be, killing and taking free-ranging poultry. Due to this, it is not recommended to free range poultry without the adequate protection of a secure fence.
Trapping techniques must conform to accepted animal welfare practices and be approved by the RSPCA. For personal safety, captured foxes should be humanely put down while trapped.
Soft-catch, rubber-jawed traps are designed to firmly hold captured foxes and practically eliminate trap-induced and self-induced injury. Trapping using this method is not recommended for urban or rural–urban fringes, due to the chance of catching other animals.
The main type of trap used is a wire cage trap with a trigger that closes the door behind the fox. These can be very successful, easy to use and will not harm the animal once caught. Cage traps are recommended for use in most areas, especially where there is an increased chance of capturing other wildlife or domestic pets.
Remove dense thickets of weeds and piles of rubbish to reduce habitat for foxes on your property. Foxes will utilise thickets of lantana or other dense bush to live in. Dens may be sighted on properties. These are usually only used during breeding season between August and October. At all other times of year, foxes do not require a den to live in.
A den is usually located on the side of a bank or hill. It is characterised by a hole around 15 centimetres across, with a mound of dirt at the entrance. It often has parts of the fox's prey animals at the entrance or nearby.
Do not create feeding stations for local native wildlife because these can be used by foxes to ambush unsuspecting wildlife. Do not domesticate foxes by intentionally feeding them. Dispose of food scraps, uneaten pet food and excess fruit dropped by fruit trees. Always cover your compost heap, or if possible use a compost bin.
If you see a fox, tell your neighbours. A cooperative community approach is needed for effective pest management. It is important that you report fox sightings. Click on the following button and scroll down to 'Pest animals' to complete our online form.
Report a problem – Animals