Foxes were introduced into Australia around Melbourne, circa. 1850, for the purposes of the traditional English "sport" of fox-hunting. To ensure establishment, two further releases were made in 1871 at Geelong and also Ballarat (both Victoria). By 1893, foxes were reported in NSW, by 1907 Queensland and WA in 1912. Foxes were declared a pest species in Victoria within 20 years of being introduced.
|Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) at the British Wildlife Centre, Surrey, England. Photo Sunday August 17th 2008.|
There are also reports of foxes being introduced to Sydney at the same time - circa. 1850. Some places state foxes also were being encouraged to breed and more introductions made to control exploding rabbit and hare numbers.
In the late 1990's reports were made of foxes being seen in Tasmania - through deliberate and illegal introductions. Nobody has been caught and a fox taskforce was commissioned to try and keep Tasmania fox-free.
Eastern bettong - preyed on by foxes
Foxes are mostly active at night, scavenging and eating whatever they can. They eat native animals such as mallee fowl, echidnas, quoll, biliby, bettongs, rock wallabies, terns, native rodents and eggs (including mallee fowl and turtle eggs). Foxes are a substantial pest to the livestock industry killing sheep and lambs, poultry and cattle, although they often target sick or dying animals. Furthermore, foxes frequently carry mange (parasitic mites) and spread it to other animals, including wombats.
Fox attracted to a dead carcass.
Foxes are known to include fruits from introduced pest species as part of their diet (e.g. blackberry, boxthorn, sweet briar), assisting in spreading noxious weeds. Their diets also incorporate insects, mice and rabbits.
There are estimated to be 7.2 million foxes in Australia, consuming over 190 million birds every year (NSW Game Council). Because foxes often kill and stash food for hard times, precise numbers of native animals kills cannot be determined.
Malleefowl are preyed on by foxes
"Dingoes...could be the answer farmers are looking for. They compete for the same food supply as feral cats and foxes, and even prey upon them (as well as other species, such as feral pigs and kangaroos, which can be a nuisance for farmers)...in places where dingoes are rare or absent, and foxes and cats are abundant, 50 per cent or more of ground-living mammals have vanished." Millen, T (2006)
It is widely recognised that dingoes control foxes. Even newspaper items from as far back as 1924 state this, "The natural habit of the dingo is to eat the fox" (The Mail, 7th June 1924).
The desert rat-kangaroo's extinction is
Natural Control Methods:
- Wedge-tailed Eagles (You Tube video)
- Mange (mite), distemper, parvo virus
- Baiting, usually with Compound 1080 (e.g. FoxOff). Inhumane.
- Trained domestic dogs and domestic dogs gone wild
- Shooting (humane)
- Traps (humane).
- Traps, then assessment for suitability as pets (e.g. foxrescue.com.au)
- Fumigating burrows with carbon monoxide during breeding time
- Millen, T (2006), ECOS. Call for more dingoes to restore native species
- The Mail (Adelaide, SA). Saturday 7th June, 1924. Dingo-Fox Cross.
- A-Z of Pest Animals - Red Fox
- European Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes)
- NSW Game Council (accessed 21/9/13)