Integrated fox control
Under the CaLP Act, landowners have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of, and as far as possible eradicate, established pest animals from their land.
Foxes are one of Australia's most serious pest animals as they not only prey on livestock and native animals, but they also have the potential to spread exotic diseases, including rabies, which would seriously threaten livestock, wildlife and human health should it enter the country.
In 2013, it was estimated that foxes costed Australia more than $35 million in lost production. Foxes are also believed to be the primary cause in the decline of numerous Australian small mammal species. Those particularly vulnerable weigh between 35 and 5500 grams, which is often referred to as the 'critical weight range'.
Established Invasive Animals Best Practice Management video series
1. Fox Control in Victoria
Hi, I'm Lucy Reiger from the Established Invasive Animals Team here at Agriculture Victoria. Foxes are a highly destructive invasive species and pose a significant threat to livestock and native wildlife. This video will give an overview of foxes as an invasive species and explores common control methods landowners can use to help manage populations.
The European Red Fox was introduced to Australia in the mid 1800s for hunting purposes. However, populations quickly spread across the country closely following that of rabbits. Today, foxes are found throughout all states and territories except Tasmania.
Foxes breed once per year, commencing around June and July. Males mature at nine to ten months of age, and 85% of females breed in their first year. Foxes generally have three to five cubs per litter, which are typically born between August and September. Foxes also have relatively large home ranges and can travel up to 10 to 15 kilometres per night in search for food and don't always return to the same den.
Foxes are opportunistic predators and will eat a wide variety of foods, including small to medium size mammals, rodents, as well as carrion. Foxes are highly adaptive and can be found in both regional and urban areas with their highest densities being found where resources are most abundant. Foxes have a devastating impact on native wildlife across Australia, currently threatening 14 species of bird, 48 mammal species and 12 reptile species. In fact, almost any animal up to 5.5 kilograms in weight is at risk of fox predation.
The economic impact of foxes is estimated to be $227.5 million per year. Foxes are also a potential biosecurity risk and may be implicated in the spread of diseases such as rabies if it were to ever enter the country.
The first step to managing foxes on your property is to identify fox activity. Key signs of fox activity include tracks, dung or scats, fox dens, as well as animal carcasses or bite marks. The best thing to do is familiarise yourself with these key signs and to look out when monitoring your property.
Once you've identified fox activity, there's a range of control methods you can use to help manage their populations. The most common control method is baiting, which involves laying poison bait designed to target foxes. Other control methods available include Canid Pest Ejectors, as well as ground shooting, trapping, and fencing. It's important to note that none of these standalone techniques are a hundred percent effective on their own, which is why an integrated approach is most effective for managing foxes. We'll provide more information about each control method in other videos as part of this series.
Foxes are a widespread invasive species that threatens agriculture, the livestock industry, and the environment. It's important to select suitable control techniques for your property and business and to implement these in a strategic manner. You can find more information on the Agriculture Victoria website. Enjoy the series, we hope you found this helpful, and thanks for playing your part in managing Victoria's invasive pest animals.
Fox biology and behaviour
Before designing your fox control program, it is important to understand fox behaviour and ecology. The following should be considered:
- Foxes are highly mobile and can travel up to 10 km per night.
- Fox populations are very resilient.
- Foxes are highly cryptic and opportunistic.
- Foxes can rapidly reinvade areas after control.
- Foxes breed once per year with young typically being born in Spring.
See Red fox for more information about their characteristics and behaviour.
Managing foxes on your property
Points to remember:
Effective fox control requires an integrated approach using a combination of control measures (not just one).
- It is also important to workwith your neighbours, rather than individual properties.
- Be aware that native wildlife may also use fox habitat, so ensure your fox control program doesn't adversely affect them.
- If the intended fox control work may result in disturbance of native vegetation, culturally significant areas and waterways, please contact the responsible authorities prior to works being conducted. The responsible authorities may include local government, Agriculture Victoria, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria or the local Registered Aboriginal Party, and the local Catchment Management Authority.
- If you are planning to use traps to control foxes – the trap specifications, trap checking times, provision of food, water and shade, and humane destruction of trapped foxes must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) and associated regulations. Trapping has several animal welfare implications and anyone considering trapping should read Humane Vertebrate Pest Control.
- If you are planning to use dogs as part of your control work, be mindful that there are specific requirements for the use of dogs for hunting. Under Section 28 of the Domestic Animals Act 1994, a person must not set or urge a dog to attack, bite, rush at or chase any animal except when hunting in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA).
- If you are planning to use chemicals to control foxes, all applicable requirements of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2017 must be met. This includes adhering to the directions for use on the chemical label, keeping the relevant chemical use records and only using 'restricted use chemicals' if you hold the required Agricultural Chemical User Permit or other relevant permit. Chemical use record sheets and further information regarding agricultural chemical use can be found in our agricultural chemicals section.
Planning your program
Good planning is essential for maximising the effectiveness of your fox control program, while minimising impacts on other animals. Consider fox density, distribution and habitat to determine what actions are most appropriate.
The following steps will help with planning.
The best results are achieved when neighbours work together to control foxes across a landscape, rather than just on individual properties. Talk to your neighbours and your local Landcare group to work out a plan for coordinated action.
Identify and map fox feeding and activity areas on your property. Foxes are often found around:
- rocky outcrops
- wood heaps
- rubbish tips
- weedy areas.
Assess fox activity on your property by spotlighting with a powerful torch or spotlight. Remember, for every fox you see there may be up to another four foxes that you don't. You may also wish to use remote cameras to determine fox activity on your property. It is also important to identify and map areas where non-target species may be at risk.
Establishing a benchmark of fox numbers, and damage, before undertaking fox control will help gauge the effectiveness of your control programs later.
Use the information you have gained from monitoring to:
- target your control effort
- monitor the progress and success of your control program
- vary and improve your program.
It is important to continue to monitor fox numbers/damage after your control program so you can treat any re-infestations.
Established Invasive Animals Best Practice Management video series
02. Monitoring pest animals in Victoria - make it part of your plan
Hi, I'm Jason Wishart. Biosecurity manager with the Established Invasive Animals Team at Agriculture Victoria. In this video, we're going to look at monitoring and why it should be included in your integrated pest management program. Monitoring is often overlooked in pest management programs because it's often seen as a waste of time and money, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Monitoring helps to measure pest damage and abundance, identify hotspots or high use areas in the landscape, confirm if non-target species are present, select the right control tools, ensure your program is having the intended impact, and it allows you to make changes to improve your program.
Two types of monitoring are used to monitor pest management programs, including performance monitoring and operations monitoring. Performance monitoring looks at the impact of your pest management program on the pest animals and their damage. While operations monitoring focuses on the efficiency of your program to ensure that the cost don't outweigh the benefits.
Monitoring can be time consuming, so it's important to be clear about what you want to monitor, when it should be monitored, and how often to confirm you are meeting the project objectives. A range of performance monitoring techniques can be used to monitor pest animals and their damage. They include camera trapping, spot lighting and thermal imagery, activity plots. And you may also record lambing rates or crop yields or look at the response of threatened species populations to your program. No matter what technique you choose, it must be undertaken consistently in terms of site, location, duration, equipment, and personnel. So the results are comparable. Now I'm going to briefly discuss each of the more common monitoring techniques used to measure performance.
In this part of the video, I'm going to run through some of the basics for using activity plots to monitor pest animal populations. So I've got one set out here. Essentially what you need to do is make sure that your plot covers the entire road so that the fox or wild dog can't step around your plot. They've got to actually walk through it. The other thing you need to do is make sure that the plot itself is wide enough, so they don't just jump over. It also needs to be at least a metre in width. And then also you need to set these up at a number of different locations along the property and quite clearly throughout the property so that you get a good representation of fox abundance. Because if you only do one or two plots, it's not really going to give you a good indication. So yeah, making sure that they're at regular intervals and there's enough to cover your property to get good numbers. And then the other thing that's important to do as well is to run it over several nights because on one night there might be a high level of activity that's unusual for some reason, or there might be low levels. So if you've done it over three nights, you can get that average and use that. And then after your control program, you can measure again and compare the same with the same. So it's got to be comparable, making sure that you've done everything in the same way and using the same number of nights and those sorts of things. So when you've set your plot, so this is when you've, you're just setting up, you've, you've created your plot. You make sure that the sand here is all nice and soft. So we've already pre-done one here, but what you can also use is a, is a bag of sand too. If the, if the roads are really hard or the surface that you're working on is really hard, then a, a fox print or a dog print, it won't show up. So you can add some sand to that mix or you can use your rake or a shovel and just really give it a roughing up. So it's nice and soft like you can see here. This is, is really sort of powdery now. So yeah, you set your plots up next morning, come back and have a look and, and record what you've found. And for most animal control programs, presence/absence is really all you need. So the number of plots with fox activity is sufficient. So that's, that's really basically what you have there for activity plot monitoring.
In this part of the video, I'm going to talk about how remote cameras can be used to monitor pest animal populations or even how they can be used to monitor control tools. Now there are a number of different cameras on the market. Some can take video and some can take still, it just depends on the situation and what you're hoping to achieve as to which one you might choose in those situations. There are also a number of different types of camera sets that you can use. So you can use a passive set, which essentially tries to capture the animal in the landscape doing its natural thing. So they're just passively moving through the landscape. And that's generally used to get a count on population. The other thing you can do is use an active set and that's where you'd use an actual lure to bring an animal to a particular area and count them that way. And sometimes that would even be considered, well, what you would use for doing baiting and, and things like that too. Okay, so once you've found the place that you'd like to actually place your camera in the landscape, the next thing you got to think about is probably the, the camera settings and the height of the camera and the distance from, from the actual target as well. So I've got a camera here. It's one of the ones where you use quite regularly. If you are most, most likely you, you're going to be monitoring things like pigs or foxes with, with remote cameras smaller animals often a little bit more difficult to detect. So it's really important that you have them at the, at the right height. So it's essentially a camera detects the heat in movement. So you want to be able to put the camera at the same height as the centre of mass. So with a pig, it's about sort of waist, waist height, a little bit lower than waist height. And you just put it into the post at about there. And you also want to put that camera facing at about 25 degrees to the trail that you think the animal be will be walking down. If you face it at right angles, the animal will be passed before the camera triggers and takes the photo. So it's really important that you sort of angle it along that trail and make sure it, it sort of captures images as the animal walks up and along and, and past. So a little bit different if you're going to be monitoring your bait station or something like that. If it's a bait station, same thing about the height. Really important to have the height right, but the distance from the bait station might be a bit different. So for pigs for example, you might put your camera about, say, five metres away because you want to maximise that field of view and make sure that you get all the animals in the shot. The other thing are the settings on the camera itself, when you're monitoring in the landscape and having animals pass through quickly, you might have your camera set really high sensitivity. So it takes a photo quite quickly and you might take a number of shots during each trigger as well. But one thing that's really important is that no matter what sort of setup and settings that you have, they remain the same for your entire monitoring program. Because if you change the settings, you might get a different detection rate or whatever and it might give you a false reading on population declines or increases. So make sure that that's exactly the same. So if you've set it one way before you're monitoring or before your control program, make sure that they're set the same way afterwards and that you use the same locations and that you monitor for the same length of time as well. So often it's a really good idea to not just to monitor for one night or two nights, but monitor for a length of time and get an average per night per camera. That way you're results will be a lot more accurate as well. And those declines will act be actual declines and not maybe a false reading. So once you've collected your data, the next thing you need to do is, is actually analyse it. And the best way to do that in most situations, particularly for the passive monitoring where you, where getting animals moving through the landscape is to look at the number of passes per animal, per camera, per night. And you average that out over the monitoring period. That's probably the most effective way for analysing camera data. There are other ways too but for monitoring, for a pest control program that's probably the best one to use. The other thing you could potentially do if you're actually looking at visitation rate towards a feral pig bait station, for example, you might then count the number of visits rather than passes. But no matter what it is, always use the same, always analyse it the same way. Consistency is really the key for monitoring so that you're actually comparing apples with apples.
In this part of the video, I'm going to go through some of the basics for spotlight monitoring, and that's really to get an idea of the pest abundance or pest activity on your land before you do control and after you do control. So there are a few things that you got to think about with spotlighting. One thing is probably the target animal. So spotlighting works really well, I guess for rabbits and foxes and to a lesser extent, feral pigs, their eye shine's not so great and you want to have transects predetermined transects as well that you'll monitor on a regular basis. So you'll use the same transect each time. So a transect really is just a path through your property and you want to make sure that that covers a good representation of what your property actually is. So if you've got a bit of bush land and a bit of open grassland and everything else, you want to make sure that that trail that you're going to spotlight covers all of that. Another thing that you need to do is make sure that the time of the night that you do your spotlighting is consistent. The people that you used to do the spotlighting is consistent. And also the actual methodology for spotlighting is consistent. So generally you travel at a certain speed throughout your transects and you do this nice steady arc and you're looking for eye shine. So eye shine from rabbits or eye shine from foxes. To do all this though, you're going to need some equipment and that again will depend on the size of the property that you're choosing or wanting to spotlight or do your monitoring. So if it's a larger property, you might use an actual spotlight, like these are quite powerful and can shine it at a certain distance or a large distance, and you can also use them out of a vehicle. And we've got one here that we use regularly for our rabbit monitoring and it's got a purpose built spotlight cage on the back for safety purposes. The other thing you might use if your property's a little bit smaller is just simply using a torch. You want a fairly high powered torch. And again, so you know if you are using your vehicle, you travelling along at a certain distance, same when you're on foot. You travel long at that certain distance. So it wants to be nice and steady and comparable. So after you finish spotlighting the data that you want to analyse is the number of animals seen or the number of individuals seen per spotlight kilometre. So for rabbits, it'll be the number of rabbits that you saw over a spotlight kilometre and you want to compare that information, your before information to your after information, and hopefully see whether there's been a percentage knockdown. And that's basically it for spotlight monitoring.
The type of monitoring technique used will depend on the target animal, the location, and the equipment and resources available. You should also conduct monitoring over several nights during each monitoring period to allow you to calculate an average as your results will be more accurate this way. Most operations monitoring is achieved by recording the costs associated with the control program in terms of time, resources, and equipment. You may also look at the number of animals removed per technique to determine its cost effectiveness. Once you've completed your monitoring, it's also important to analyse the data. For most pest control programs data analysis does not need to be complicated. Remember, you're only trying to confirm that your management program is having their desired impact on the pest animals and their damage, and that the costs aren't outweighing the benefits. So as previously mentioned, you might calculate the average number of passes per species, per camera per night if using camera monitoring, the average number of individuals per spotlight kilometre, if using spotlighting or the average number of plots containing activity per collection period if using activity plots. Monitoring is essential for any pest management program, as it allows you to confirm if your program is meeting the objectives. And if it's not, it enables you to make changes to improve it. It also helps to avoid any non-target impacts. For further information on monitoring and control methods, please watch the other videos in this series, refer to the Agricultural Victoria website or call the Customer Service Centre. Thanks for watching.
Aim to be fox free
Create a detailed fox management plan that has a specific aim and time-bound objectives to ensure the best outcomes. Eradication may not be possible in all areas, so ongoing monitoring and management is often required.
Use the right tools
Effective fox management requires an integrated approach using all control tools that suit your property. Every fox should be exposed to as many different control tools as possible to ensure those missed with one are accounted for with another. Making your property a fox unfriendly environment will also help prevent re-invasion and population recovery.
It is best to implement your fox control program before the peak of their damage, especially if you are planning to bait, as it can be hard to persuade foxes to take a bait when they have access to newborn lambs or ground nesting birds.
Baiting can occur year-round, but best results are often achieved with an intermittent 'pulse' baiting pattern, where poison baits are offered for 1 to 2 months followed by 1 to 3 months where bait is not offered.
Fumigation and den destruction should occur during August and September as fox cubs are born at this time and the vixen will only remain in the den with her cubs during the first three weeks of birth. Remember, a vixen may have two or three other dens to use for breeding if the main breeding (natal) den is disturbed.
Shooting can be used year-round but should not be done while baiting is in progress, because it can disrupt animal behaviour and reduce the effectiveness of you baiting program. For animal welfare reasons, shooting should not occur while vixens have dependant young.
Evaluate your success
Conduct a second round of monitoring after your control program using the same methods that you used to monitor prior to undertaking any control. This will help ensure that the results are comparable and that they are an accurate representation of damage/density declines.
- Have you destroyed all fox dens?
- Are you still experiencing damage caused by foxes?
- Is the fox damage above or below acceptable thresholds?
- What is working well?
- What could be improved?
- Do you need to change your plan?
- Have you managed all the risks?
Continue to monitor fox numbers and damage after your control program. When you see signs of fox activity again, implement control actions immediately.
Remember, fox control is time-consuming and there is no quick-fix solution.
Baiting is the most cost-effective control tool for broadscale and rapid population knockdowns, so it is important to design your integrated fox control program around baiting when it is permissible.
The following control measures may be suitable:
- baiting (baits and/or Canid Pest Ejectors)
- den fumigation and ripping
- above-ground harbour removal
- property hygiene
- exclusion fencing
- guardian animals.
The most cost-effective way to achieve broadscale fox population knockdowns is through coordinated baiting, and it should always be supported by other control techniques as part of an integrated program.
Established Invasive Animals Best Practice Management video series
2. Baiting foxes in Victoria
Hi, I'm Jason Wishart, Biosecurity Manager with the Established Invasive Animals Team at Agriculture Victoria. In this video we are going to take a look at fox baiting. Baiting is a cost-effective way to manage fox populations over large areas. It is considered a primary management technique and should be used as part of an integrated program.
Two toxins can be used to manage foxes in Victoria, including 1080 and PAPP. 1080 is derived from a naturally occurring compound found in some native Australian plant species. As a result, some native wildlife species have built a tolerance to 1080, unlike introduced pests that are highly susceptible. Nevertheless, it's important to avoid baiting where non-target species may be at risk, and to also bury fox baits during your baiting program to reduce access for non-target species. 1080 can be used as fresh or shelf stable baits. PAPP or para-amino propiophenone is a relatively new toxin for baiting foxes in Australia. Carnivores such as foxes, dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to PAPP, but it can also be toxic to a range of other species. So as with 1080, it's important to avoid baiting when non-target species may be at risk and to bury fox baits during baiting to reduce non-target species access. PAPP can only be used in shelf-stable baits.
Landholders must adhere to a number of legal requirements when using PAPP and 1080 bait products. First, they must possess a 1080 and PAPP endorsed Agricultural Chemical Users Permit. And then all usage notification, transportation, storage and disposal must be carried out in accordance with the product label, the directions for use of 1080 and PAPP bait products in Victoria and any other relevant state legislation.
It's important to monitor your property before undertaking your baiting program. Monitoring helps to identify where foxes are currently active and it can be used to measure the effectiveness of your program at a later date. During monitoring, you can actively search for signs of foxes, including tracks, dung, dens and fresh kills. You may also choose to use remote cameras to confirm fox presence near water holes, fence crossings, or along trails. In the next part of the video, I'll demonstrate how to bait foxes.
Now the first thing you got to do when, when doing a fox baiting program is to think about the timing. So, you want to put baits in the landscape when foxes are more likely to eat them. So that's when alternate feeds are scarce. It can also be when younger foxes are dispersing from their original home range after the breeding season around Autumn. The other thing you can think about during timing is you know when it's less likely to impact perhaps a native or or non-target species. So you can avoid those times of the year and also when you can time it with your neighbours.
So the next thing you want to think about is bait placement. And with bait placement you really just want to put it where the foxes are most likely to find it and also to cover your property as well as you possibly can.
So along fence lines like we've got here, so this is an internal fence. Foxes will often travel along, hit the internal fence and walk along the fence for a period of time. They also like to walk along vehicle tracks and those sorts of things. They could be closer to water points where their prey are often more abundant. So, it's really important to target those areas. So, you can either place them at hotspots or the other way to do it is to place them at set intervals along tracks, but there are regulations around the distances for these intervals. So, it's really important to pay attention to the directions for use and also the label instructions.
So now I'm just going to run through some of the equipment that you'll need when laying a fox bait. First, you'll need your shovel, which is used to create your plot. So that's just basically a one by one metre square that you'll place your bait in the centre of. And that plot will do two things. It'll attract the fox to the site in the first place or help to and then you can also monitor for tracks of foxes and also non-target species. Then you can use your mattock to put the bait in the centre of the plot or dig your bait in the plot. You will then use your, whenever handling the baits, you've got your safety equipment, so your PVC gloves in this instance. Marking tape to mark your bait station as well. You can also use a GPS. You can also use a remote camera. So to set that up fairly close to the bait station to keep an eye on the bait station to see what's visiting. And then you'll have the baits themselves. So for foxes, you can either use perishable baits or shelf stable baits. So, we've got some shelf stable baits here. You have got a sausage style bait, a meat meal style bait, and also a dried meat bait. And you can also use for foxes in Victoria 1080 and PAPP.
Okay, now we're going to lay the fox bait. So firstly, I'll clear my plot. So, you just want to smooth this off a little bit. Make sure the dirt is nice and soft so that tracks will be seen if any fox or non-target animal comes along. So that's essentially that. The next thing you want to do is to dig the hole in the middle. Now it's really important to bury the baits to a certain depth as part of the label and also as part of the directions for use. So that's about 10 centimetres. Now burying the bait helps to reduce the non-target risk as well. Foxes will definitely smell it and come along and dig it up, whereas non-target animals are less likely to do that. So there we have the hole that's been dug and now I'll add the bait to that. So putting the gloves on. As always, when handling any baits, place the bait in the centre of the hole, cover that over, make sure it's nice and smooth. And that's essentially it there. So after that you might put your flagging tape on the fence. You might also put up a camera as well to monitor that bait station to see what comes in overnight. And next, really you've just got to think about checking the baits each day during your program every morning to replace any baits that might have been eaten so that there are more baits there available for the next fox that comes along. And, and also at the end of the program as well, you've got to think about cleanup. So disposing of any uneaten bait material and of any fox carcasses that you might find.
Baiting is cost effective for managing foxes over large areas. As always, it should be undertaken with other control techniques as part of an integrated management program. Baiting should also be undertaken with your neighbours to cover a larger area as possible and slow population recovery. For further information on baiting, visit the Agriculture Victoria website or call the Customer Service Centre. Please also watch the other videos in this series to learn about the other control techniques used for foxes. Thank you.
Two toxins are registered for use on foxes in Victorian including Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) and Para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP).
1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) is a lethal poison registered to control:
- wild dogs
- wild or feral pigs.
1080 is derived from a compound found in some Australian native plants. Therefore, some native Australian animals have a higher tolerance to 1080. Introduced species such as domestic dogs and cats, livestock and pest species such as rabbits, foxes, wild dogs and wild or feral pigs are highly susceptible to 1080 poisoning.
1080 pest animal bait products registered for fox control in Victoria can be purchased in the form of shelf-stable or perishable (fresh meat) bait products.
To purchase and use 1080 pest animal bait products in Victoria you must either:
- have an Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP) with a 1080 endorsement
- have a Commercial Operators Licence (COL) with a vermin destroyer endorsement
- hold a valid Licence To Use Pesticides (LTUP) with an authorisation for the control of pest animals.
Non-target animals may be killed if they consume 1080 bait. Therefore, livestock must be removed for the duration of the 1080 baiting program, and all uneaten and unused bait must be disposed of as per Direction for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria.
1080 baiting programs should not be implemented where there is a risk to non-target wildlife.
Anyone considering implementing a 1080 baiting program must read and adhere to the product label and Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP pest animal bait products in Victoria.
PAPP (Para-aminopropiophenone) is a lethal poison registered to control foxes and wild dogs in Victoria.
PAPP induces the formation of Methaemoglobin by oxidising haemoglobin. This process reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen throughout the body, causing major organs including the heart and brain to shut down. Available data shows a wide range in toxicity of PAPP across mammals, birds and reptiles. In general, PAPP is relatively more toxic to carnivores (such as foxes, dogs and cats).
PAPP pest animal bait products registered for fox control in Victoria can only be purchased as shelf-stable baits.
To purchase and use PAPP pest animal bait products in Victoria you must either:
- have an Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP) with a PAPP endorsement
- have a Commercial Operators Licence (COL) with a vermin destroyer endorsement
- hold a valid Licence To Use Pesticides (LTUP) with an authorisation for the control of pest animals.
Non-target animals, particularly domestic dogs, may be killed if they consume PAPP bait.
All baits (including uneaten and unused) must be used in accordance with the product label and the Directions for the use of 1080 and PAPP pest animal bait products in Victoria.
Read more about Victoria's 1080 and PAPP pest animal bait system.
1080 fox baits registered for use in Victoria may be shelf-stable manufactured baits or fresh meat baits (liver), whereas PAPP can only be purchased as shelf-stable baits. Bait type selection is usually determined by local knowledge or user preference.
The optimal baiting rate depends on the home range size and density of foxes in your area. Use local knowledge and the results of monitoring to help determine the optimal baiting rate in your area.
When determining actual baiting rates, always adhere to the product label and Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria.
When to bait
When baiting to reduce the impact of foxes at a critical time of year (lambing or vulnerable stage of native animal lifecycle such as nestling chicks), bait 6 to 8 weeks before anticipated impact. If baiting for an extended period (more than one month), consider pulse-baiting to reduce the potential for non-target damage and to increase cost efficiency.
If the aim of baiting is long-term control, regular baiting needs to be carried out across an entire region with 2 to 4 pulses per year.
Critical stages of the fox's lifecycle that can be targeted with a baiting program include:
- May – prior to mating when territories are established and the population is stable
- Between July and October, when fox numbers are at their lowest and before vixen give birth
- November, at a point where energy-depletion changes to energy-gain and appetites can be voracious
- February, March and April, when naive juveniles with high energy demands are dispersing.
Where to bait
Fox baits must be buried as per the product label and the Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP pest animal bait products in Victoria to reduce the likelihood of non-target damage.
Baits should be distributed across the property in locations frequented by foxes to provide optimum opportunity for baits to be taken.
Areas frequented by foxes include:
- vehicle tracks
- fence and creek lines
- contour banks
- vegetation borders
- watering points.
The larger the area baited, the longer it takes for foxes to re-establish, so it is important to work with your neighbours to cover as much land as possible.
Offering free feed baits (non-toxic) before poison baits will help identify where foxes are feeding, reduce toxic bait wastage and enable a maximum kill of the target species.
Caching is instinctive survival behaviour displayed by foxes where they move or bury food items for later consumption. It is possible for one fox to cache several baits from a particular bait station. These caches may be located outside the boundary of the property where foxes are being baited, potentially exposing non-target animals such as domestic dogs, to toxic baits.
To reduce the likelihood of bait caching, it is important not to replace poison baits for extended periods of time. You may also consider using Canid Pest Ejectors (CPE’s) where you suspect baits are being cached as CPE’s cannot be cached (see next section for information on CPE’s).
Canid Pest Ejectors
Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs) are a relatively new tool for managing foxes and wild dogs in Australia and can be used in a similar way to baits (i.e. timing and locations)
CPEs are a mechanical device designed to deliver a measured dose of 1080 or PAPP directly into the mouth of foxes and wild dogs. The CPE is activated when a fox or dog pulls firmly (with a force greater than 1.6 kg) in an upward motion on the lure head. This triggers a spring-loaded mechanism that drives a piston into the poison-filled capsule, which propels its (powder or liquid) contents directly into the mouth of the animal.
Established Invasive Animals Best Practice Management video series
3. Fox control in Victoria - canid pest ejectors
Hi, I'm Jason Wishart. Biosecurity Manager with the Established Invasive Animals team at Agriculture Victoria. In this video we'll take a look at Canid Pest Ejectors and how they can be used to manage foxes on your land. Canid Pest Ejectors, and baiting, which are covered in another video, are considered as primary fox management techniques and should be used with other suitable techniques as part of an integrated fox management program. Canid Pest Ejectors are a spring activated device used to deploy toxin directly into the mouths of foxes and wild dogs that are activated when a fox or wild dog pulls firmly on the lure head. Canid Pest Ejectors can be effective at preventing harm to non-target species as they are specifically designed to target foxes and wild dogs. You can either use 1080 or PAPP toxic capsules in CPEs and the capsules themselves are weatherproof, which prevents degradation. CPEs also prevent caching, which sometimes happens with traditional baiting.
There are a number of legal requirements that landholders must adhere to when using CPEs. First, you must possess a 1080 and PAPP endorsed Agricultural Chemical Users Permit to buy and use Canid Pest Ejectors. Any usage notification, transport, storage and disposal must also be carried out in accordance with the label, the directions for use of 1080 and PAPP bait products in Victoria and any other relevant state legislation.
Okay, in this part of the video, I'm going to demonstrate how to set a Canid pest ejector. So the first thing you're going to do when you are implementing a Canid Pest Ejector program is think about the timing. So you want to place them out in the landscape when foxes are more likely to find it and actually pull on the lure head. So best to do it when alternate feed is scarce. Another time is when maybe younger foxes are dispersing from their initial home ranges, sort of after the breeding season. And with Canid Pest Ejectors as well, it's also good to sometimes run a program in between your ground baiting programs to pick up any foxes that may move in from outside areas.
Okay, the next thing you want to think about is site selection. So whereabouts in the landscape that you want to place a Canid Pest Ejector, and you want to do that where foxes are likely to find it. So anywhere where foxes frequent an area, for whatever reason, so it could be near a dam or somewhere where their prey items are abundant. Could be along a game trail, could be along fence lines could be near den sites and those sorts of things. The other thing you want to be a little bit careful of or be careful of is, is potential non-target species in the area. So, if there's a high sign of non-arts, you may not want to put your Canid Pest Ejector there. So, in this particular instance, we've chosen this spot near this old hollow log that foxes would camp in throughout the day. There's also a fair bit of sign as well that they've been here, so bits of rabbit bone and that sort of thing, and some scats too. So that's why we've selected this spot.
Okay, now I'm going to run through some of the equipment that you'll need to set your Canid Pest Ejector. First, you'll need your shovel to clear a plot. So, you want to create about a one by one metre squared plot. Essentially that'll attract the foxes into the location, but you can also monitor footprints, and everything left by foxes and non-target species. And your Canid Pest Ejector will sit directly in the middle of that plot. So then you'll need your hammer to hammer the Canid Pest Ejector into the ground, a driving rod, which will slip into the stake for the Canid Pest Ejector. Now it's really important that you use the driving rod to hammer the stake into the ground, or you'll damage the actual stake itself if you just hammer the stake directly. So, using that. The next bit is the firing mechanism or the ejector unit itself. The lure head, which attracts the foxes to the site in the first place. The setting pliers. Your safety equipment, so PVC gloves and goggles as well. When using handling the life unit with 1080, you'll, these are the equipment that you'll need, but when you're using PAPP, you'll also need cotton overalls buttoned to the neck and to the wrist. I'll just show you the capsule as well and what that looks like. But when doing that, the capsules is the part or the piece that holds the toxin. So, I'll use my gloves for that. So these are the little capsules that you'll use and that contains, like I said before, either 1080 or PAPP. And then your marking tape for marking the location. You might also use a GPS as well or something like that. And your remote camera, if you've got one, really great to put those on your Canid Pest Ejector to monitor what comes in and what might pull on the lure head. So that's all the equipment that you'll need. And the next bit I'll actually set the Canid Pest Ejector.
Okay, so now I'm going to set the Canid Pest Ejector. So, the first thing you want to do is create your plot about one by one metre squared. So scrape it off a bit. So I'm just going to loosen that soil a bit too, just so it's easy to see any footprints. Okay, so now that's all clear. I'll put the Canid Pest Ejector in the centre of this plot. So the first bit is to put the stake into the ground with your driving rod and your hammer. As mentioned earlier, it's really important to use the driving rod or you'll damage the stake. Now you don't want to hammer that all the way into the ground. You want to leave about a centimetre or so just protruding so that you've got the locking mechanism there or the locking ring and a little groove in the side of the stake that you slot the, the ejector into. That needs to be just sitting above the ground a bit. So I'll just go a little bit more. So that's about it there, just like that. Then we'll move on to the firing mechanism or the ejector mechanism and setting that. So really what you do here is use setting pliers and compress the piston and just wiggle that trigger a bit until it's at about 90 degrees and that there is set and loaded. Then set that to the side and next we're going to be handling the, the toxin. So we want to wear our safety gear. So I'll put my goggles on first and then my gloves, PVC gloves. So next you get your lure head and toxin capsule, and that just goes in the centre of the lure head and it can only go one way. So if it doesn't work just turn it around and try the other way. And that should drop directly into the middle of that lure head like that. And then you screw that onto the ejector mechanism. So it's really important when doing this because it'll be loaded then that you've got your safety gear on. But also that the ejector device itself is downwind so that if it accidentally fires any of the contents from the capsule will blow away from you and also just to point it in a safe direction as well. So you screw that on just finger tight like so. And then that just slots into the stake that you've put into the ground before. So this is an important bit. So you want to put your head down low onto the side, and again, the wind is blowing that way. So if it accidentally fires, it's going to go away from me. The trigger here goes into that little slot there on the steak, and then that locking ring goes above the trigger. If it goes below the trigger, the ejector unit can just be pulled out like that. So it must go above that trigger. So then when a fox pulls at that certain pull force it will fire directly into its mouth. So we'll lock that in position. You can see there that locking ring is above the the trigger and that is essentially ready to go. So now that that's all set up we can then put our marking tape up on the log here behind us or wherever. So you can easily find your stake and you can set up your remote camera.
The next thing you want to do is, is check it on a relatively regular basis. So every few days you'd come out and check it. And that's to see if any of the capsules or any of the the lure heads have been pulled. Or if you need to replace any spent capsules. You may even need to replace the lure head from time to time because occasionally they do degrade a little bit in the weather and become less attractive to foxes. So you might want to freshen those up. And then at the end of the program as well, you want to collect all spent and unspent capsules and dispose of them and dispose of any fox carcasses that you might find. And remember, as always, any disposal usage, notification to neighbours, transportation, storage, those sorts of things, they must all be done in accordance with the product label. And also with the directions for use of 1080 and PAPP bait products in Victoria.
Canid Pest Ejectors are an effective method for managing fox populations on your property. As always, Canid Pest Ejectors should be used with other techniques as part of an integrated approach. We hope you found this video on Canid Pest Ejectors helpful and please view the other videos in the series for further information on fox management. Thank you.
Advantages of CPEs:
- Poison capsules are sealed and protected from the weather, meaning the toxin remains viable until the CPE is activated by a fox or wild dog.
- The device is driven into the ground with only the lure head protruding, therefore it cannot be easily moved or cached by target or non-target species.
- The device can only be activated by an upward pull force greater than 1.6 kg, which is difficult for many smaller non-target species to achieve (confirmed via extensive field research).
- The CPEs can be used many times as long as they are well maintained.
- A variety of lure heads can be used to optimise the attractiveness of the CPEs to foxes.
Limitations of CPEs:
- Lure heads deteriorate over time so they must be replaced periodically to ensure they remain attractive.
- CPEs are a risk to domestic dogs as they can also achieve the required pull force required to activate the device. Therefore, working or pet dogs should be prevented from roaming in areas where CPEs are active.
1080 and PAPP capsules can be purchased for use on foxes in Victoria, but users must have appropriate accreditation such as an Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP) with a 1080 and PAPP endorsement. You must also adhere to all Label Directions and the Directions for the Use of 1080 and PAPP Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria.
Other management techniques
These techniques are best used complimentary to baiting; and/or canid pest ejectors as part of an integrated pest management program. Using these techniques on their own will rarely achieve long term control.
Established Invasive Animals Best Practice Management video series
4. Supplementary fox control options in Victoria
Hi, I'm Nigel Roberts. Leading Biosecurity Officer with the Established Invasive Animals team at Agriculture Victoria. In this video, I'll be talking to you about a range of management techniques other than baiting that can be used to help manage foxes on your property. The following techniques are not effective at achieving long term fox control when used on their own. However, it is worth considering these techniques to complement baiting and Canid Pest Ejectors as part of an integrated program to achieve better results. Please view the other videos in this series. For more information about baiting and Canid Pest Ejectors. Always consider your situation and what technique or combination of techniques is best suited to your property.
Shooting is an option that landholders often use for managing foxes on their properties. One advantage of shooting is that it's target specific, which reduces the chances of harm to off-target animals. And if done correctly, it is a humane control technique. Various forms of shooting used for foxes include spotlighting or use of thermal scopes, fox drives and fox whistling. Spotlighting, the use of thermal scopes, and fox whistling in late summer and early autumn are good times to target young foxes emerging from the dens after the breeding seasons. If you are conducting shooting on your property, you must adhere to all safety and legal requirements. Shooting should be undertaken humanely in accordance with the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act. Shooting can be in labour intensive and time intensive, and rarely achieves long term population reductions. Foxes also become harder to shoot as they become wary, reducing the effectiveness of the technique and giving the shooter a false sense of success. As with all techniques in this video, please consider shooting as a secondary option or complEmentary to baiting and Canid Pest Ejectors.
Fumigation is another option available for landholders and is best suited to localised fox problems such as dens located near lambing paddocks or poultry. Fumigation uses carbon monoxide gas admitted from a flare and applied to a sealed fox den. Before conducting fumigation, it's important to make sure that foxes are using the den and not native animals. You can do this by looking for scats, tracks, and remains of prey items. It's important to properly seal the den and any escape holes only using soil when fumigating the den. This helps create a tight seal that stops gas from escaping. Fumigation should take place between August and October when vixens and cubs are using the den. Deep ripping can also be used to destroy the dens afterwards to ensure that they cannot be used by other foxes. If you don't have access to machinery, monitor the den after fumigation for further signs of fox activity and treat again.
Cage trapping and foothold trapping are other options available to landholders. However, it is time consuming and labour intensive. Trapping may be used for the removal of nuisance animals, but generally not as a long term fox control method. Cage traps are preferred over foothold traps as they are less likely to cause harm to the animal and off-target species can easily be released. There is strict legislation around the trap use, which includes the type and size of trap, how often you must check them, and the locations that they can be used. So please make sure you check and understand the Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals Act for rules on trapping.
Fences may be used to exclude foxes from high value assets such as endangered species habitat. However, foxes are very agile animals capable of passing through, digging under, jumping over, or even climbing various types of fences. As a result, fences must be of the highest standard and must be regularly maintained, or foxes are likely to breach the fence, requiring lethal options inside the fenced areas.
The techniques described in this video should be used to support the primary control techniques of baiting and Canid Pest Ejectors. We have standalone videos in this series on both of those techniques. Shooting, fumigation, and trapping may be able to target foxes not controlled through baiting or Canid Pest Ejectors. Thanks for watching, and please visit the Agriculture Victoria website or call our Customer Service Centre for more information. Thank you for helping to manage pests in your area and we hope you've found these videos helpful.
While shooting is the most target-specific and humane form of fox control, it will not achieve long-term population reductions if undertaken without other techniques. Shooting can educate foxes and make them wary. This often results in difficulty estimating fox numbers as they will be less visible.
Spotlighting, or the use of thermal rifle scops, particularly in late summer and early autumn can account for large numbers of foxes. Young cubs can be easily attracted with a fox whistle at this time. The number of foxes taken from an area drops rapidly after a few nights and it tends to target mainly young, vulnerable foxes.
Daylight drives or battues using a line of beaters or the services of recognised fox hunting clubs to drive foxes before guns can be an effective control tool but is very labour intensive.
The use of firearms to control foxes must conform to relevant firearm legislation and be integrated with other control methods.
Fumigation to destroy fox dens
Carbon monoxide (CO) is used to fumigate active breeding or natal dens. A tasteless and odourless gas, CO binds to the haemoglobin in red blood cells at faster than oxygen (O) resulting in a loss of consciousness and a rapid death.
Foxes habitually re-use dens year after year. A vixen is likely to begin excavating prospective dens in April to May as cubs are born during August to September. The vixen may have two or three other dens that can be used if the main breeding (natal) den is disturbed.
Fumigation should be used when the vixen and cubs are confined to the den during August to October. The vixen is only likely to be killed in the den during the first 3 weeks after the birth of her cubs. Where the den is accessible to appropriate machinery, deep ripping should be used to destroy it. You should revisit dens each year in May to June and August to September to measure the fox activity and to fumigate and destroy dens.
A carbon monoxide fumigant is the only registered product for the control of foxes in Victoria. There are no special training requirements or licenses to use carbon monoxide den fumigants to control foxes in Victoria. Please refer to the product label for detailed instructions on the use of carbon monoxide den fumigants.
Above-ground harbour removal
Foxes use a variety of shelter such as rubbish heaps, rocky outcrops, patches of woody weeds, buildings and some forms of native vegetation to harbour. Above-ground harbour aids fox survival by protecting them from the elements and other predators.
- Remove prickly and woody weeds (such as gorse, boxthorn and blackberries), rubbish piles and old machinery.
- Fence off rock piles, building materials, hay bales and wood piles or store them in a manner that does not create a hiding place for foxes. Fence off the underneath of buildings, water tanks and other areas foxes may hide.
- Remember the fallen timber that may provide harbour for foxes, may also provide habitat for native wildlife. If you are planning to remove fallen timber, you must ensure that you do not affect native wildlife.
Foxes are agile animals capable of passing through, digging under, jumping over, or even climbing various types of fences. Wire netting with mesh size not exceeding 80 mm (approx. 3 inches) will prevent most foxes passing through the fences.
The netting should be 1.2 to 1.9 m high and should be buried to a depth of at least 450 mm. An apron of netting angled outwards for 200 mm at the base provides an added deterrent to digging.
Adding electrified outrigger wires to netting fences help to discourage foxes from climbing. Electrified, plain-wire fences can exclude foxes, spacing of the wire must be close enough to ensure that the fox will get a shock before it has penetrated the fence.
It should be remembered that conventional fences are built as physical barriers whereas electric fences are designed to operate as psychological as well as physical barriers. The change in emphasis means that fence maintenance assumes a critical role and unless the land manager is aware of this, failure of electric fence lines will result in foxes breaching the barrier.
Exclusion fences for the protection of poultry should be fully enclosed to prevent foxes climbing inside.
Animal carcasses should be removed to prevent foxes scavenging on them.
Food scraps (including rubbish bins and compost) and pet food should be removed so as not to encourage foxes onto the property.
Rabbits form a major part of a fox's diet, therefore controlling rabbits on your property will reduce the number of foxes.
Small lambing paddocks should be used to allow easier monitoring of the flock and reduce the chances of young lambs being left unattended a long way from their mothers. Lambing paddocks situated close to the house are also easier to check more frequently.
Some producers have successfully used guardian dogs (Anatolian shepherds, Maremma sheepdogs) and alpacas to protect their flocks from foxes. Guardian animals will either directly confront a predator using intimidation or disrupt the predator’s hunting behaviour by becoming noisy and active.
Guardian dogs should not be confused with herding dogs. A guardian dog’s sole purpose is to protect ‘their’ livestock from predators while working unsupervised and independently of humans.
The presence of domestic dogs may also discourage foxes from visiting suburban backyards.
Trapping is not cost effective as the technique is labour intensive and foxes quickly re-invade from surrounding areas. Trapping also has animal welfare implications.
Any trapping of foxes must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) and associated regulations.
Trapping has several animal welfare implications and anyone considering trapping should read Humane vertebrate pest control.
Figure 1 courtesy of Ben Galbraith