Red foxes are widespread in Victoria and have been present in inner Melbourne since the 1930s and have adapted to become an established part of suburbia. They can cause a nuisance by harassing domestic animals, eating pet food, raiding rubbish bins, defecating or digging in gardens, and chewing infrastructure such as garden hoses and irrigation systems.
Foxes prey upon native and domesticated animals including unprotected poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs and aviary birds and can spread parasites and diseases such as mange and distemper to domestic animals and pets.
Red Foxes are a Declared Pest
Foxes have been declared a pest animal under the Catchment and Land Protection Act (1994). Under this law, you are legally responsible to prevent the spread of and as far as possible and remove foxes from your property.
Foxes are common in urban environments and they have a higher population density than in rural areas. They are highly mobile and can travel up to 10 – 15 km per night.
Foxes quickly re-invade an area after baiting, shooting or trapping.
Foxes can have a number of dens or hiding places at different times during the day and may not regularly return to any one den. The dens may be under houses, sheds, outbuildings or in hollow logs, rock piles, drainpipes, car bodies, under blackberry patches. In fact, foxes may be living in your backyard or garage without you knowing it. They are nocturnal and most active during the evening and early morning. They are also timid and will flee when disturbed.
They are not associated with transmission of disease in humans and do not present a significant public health issue.
Signs of Red Fox Activity
Apart from seeing a fox in your garden at dusk, dawn or during the night, there are the signs of fox activity to look out for.
Preventing Red Fox Activity
Red foxes forage around rubbish bins, picnic sites, compost heaps and also feed on fruit and pet food left outside. They prey on small animals. A mature fox is capable of killing up to 3000 animals a year including native wildlife, domestic fowl, livestock and guinea pigs.
The best way to make Whitehorse fox-free is to make the area unsuitable for fox survival. It is more effective to eliminate the attraction to foxes to be around your property than trying to remove the foxes.
Controlling Red Fox Activity
Urban fox management is quite challenging as the only effective method of management is trapping because baiting and shooting foxes are not appropriate. Baiting is prohibited in the urban environment due to the potential poisoning of domestic/wild animals. There is a risk when shooting foxes in an urban area due to the possibility of shooting a person or domestic/wild animal. Trapping is not very cost-effective as the technique is labour intensive and foxes quickly re-invade from surrounding areas.
Report red fox sightings on the Feralscan website. Residents recording their sightings on FeralScan will provide data on red fox hot-spots which will help inform the development of the Australian Pest Animal Strategy.
Try using animal deterrent scents or installing movement sensor ultrasonic noise devices or a movement sensor water sprinkler. Otherwise, contact a pest controller to have the fox removed.
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Speak to the property owner about your observations. Direct them to this page for information.
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More information about the red fox: