1. Why is fox control important?

Under WA’s Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act 2007 (the Act) foxes are a

declared pest and must be controlled by reducing numbers and distribution across the

state to alleviate harmful impacts. It is the responsibility of all land owners and managers

to control foxes found on their land.

Since establishing in the Australian wild in the 1870’s, the fox has contributed to the

decline and extinction of more mammals than anywhere else in the world. Introduced

predators such as foxes and feral cats, along with loss of habitat, are key factors in the

decline of native mammals and animals including ground nesting birds, pythons and other

reptiles. Since European settlement, Western Australia has seen:

 11 mammal species extinctions;

 7 species disappear from the mainland but remain on a few offshore islands;

 more than 30 species populations decline significantly or are threatened with

extinction.

It is not known what the full impact of the loss of these particular species has been on

WA's environment. However, the extinction or decline of any species is of great concern

for a range of environmental, amenity and ethical reasons.

Our native mammals most at risk of easy prey of foxes are small and medium-sized

animals weighing 35g to 5.5 kilograms. The following threatened species (Federal

Environmental Protection and Biodiversity, Conservation Act, and or, WA Wildlife

Conservation Act) all occur within the City of Kalamunda and are vulnerable to fox

predation:

 Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa)

 Chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii)

 Carpet Python (Morelia spilota imbricata)

 Quenda (Isoodon fusciventer)

 Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

 Rakali (water rat) (Hydromys chrysogaster)

 Western Brush Wallaby (Notomacropus Irma)

 Woylie (Bettongia penicillata)

Other species not listed under these acts but also vulnerable to foxes include:

 Brush-tailed Possum (Trichsorus vulpecula)

 Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatu acanthion)

 Pacific Black Duck (Anus superciliosa)

In addition to these native species, officers at the City of Kalamunda regularly receive

notification of residents losing domestic poultry, livestock and pets to fox predation.

Foxes are also known to eat the fruits and spread the seed from invasive weeds such as

Blackberry (a weed of national significance), Olives, Brazillian Pepper and Lantana all of

which require large amounts of resources to remove from the City's reserves and natural

areas.

2. How are fox numbers controlled?

Fox activity reported by residents is substantiated by setting remote cameras in reserves close to sightings.  If foxes are observed by the cameras, a licensed professional pest animal contractor is engaged to use prescribed methods to control the foxes. Prescribed methods of fox control include:

  • 1080 and other poisoned baits
  • Shooting
  • Trapping
  • Den destruction
  • Den fumigation

1080, a Schedule 7 poison, and use and discharge of a firearm on public land in urban areas are not appropriate. Therefore, the City of Kalamunda employ physical den destruction and trapping methods in our urban and peri-urban localities.

3. What do the control methods involve?

Soft-jawed leg hold traps and cage traps are the two methods that can be employed to capture and control foxes.  The City of Kalamunda utilise the soft-jawed leg hold traps as it is considered the method that is most efficient for our local conditions while having the lowest impact on the catch and non-target species. Only a licenced operator may trap foxes.

Soft-jawed leg hold traps

The use of soft-jawed leg hold traps is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act 2002 and Regulations 2003 and can only be used if the jaws are padded and modified so that the captured animal is unlikely to suffer significant injury.  Under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, a permit from Department of Industries and Regional Development: Agriculture and Food is required to use soft catch jawed leg hold traps. 

To minimise risks of off target capture, the minimum number of traps per trapping site are set. The traps are strategically located to minimise risk of capturing non-target species such as domestic dogs and other West Australian wildlife.  Areas deemed too unsafe to trap due to risk of non-target capture, or high traffic areas are avoided.

Warning signs are erected at all entrances to the reserve.  The signs warn of trapping being undertaken and that dogs must be kept on lead.  In closer proximity to the traps further signs are erected stating that dogs are prohibited past that point for the duration of the trapping period. 

Trapped foxes are euthanized on site and disposed of at a registered disposal site. 

All contractors engaged by the City are required to provide job safety analyses that detail all risks and associated management measures for people and the catch. The City seeks to ensure that all relevant Acts, regulations, guidelines and best practice are complied with for the works. 

Cage Traps

Whilst cage traps pose a lower risk to domestic animals than cage traps, the use of cage traps on foxes dramatically reduces the capture rates on foxes compared to foot-hold traps. Few foxes are caught in cage traps (Saunders and McLeod 2007).

Cage traps tend only to catch young foxes and only after much free feeding. The removal of only young foxes may not result in a reduction in the overall population of foxes, as young fox numbers are substantially reduced in the first year as a result of food competition and predation.  

Den Destruction

Where active fox dens are found, they are broken open and filled. Unused and inactive fox dens are GPS logged and checked as part of the on-going program. Some local governments will fumigate active dens where it is appropriate.


3. When is fox trapping carried out?

Outside of the City’s obligation under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, the primary reason for undertaking a fox control program is to reduce the negative impact on the native fauna populations in bushland reserves of the City. The most effective control is achieved during late winter and spring.  At this time the mature breeding foxes are less mobile rearing young.  At other times there is increased likelihood of capturing young animals, rather than mature adults. Our program over the last two years has been to set traps in reserves in June/July each year for a period of up to two weeks.


4. Where can I read more on fox trapping and control methods?