Foxes on the prowl
“OPPORTUNISTIC” foxes are hunting through Fraser Coast farms and suburbs in their search for live prey.
Even neighbourhood cats are being targeted by the imported ferals, says one local hunter, Eddie Dickfos.
The European red fox was first introduced to Australia by British colonists to hunt for sport near Melbourne in 1845.
“Since then it has become a severe environmental problem and whereas once it was pretty much only seen in rural areas now it roams our suburbs looking for food,” Mr Dickfos said.
“I spotted one at 5am between Oleander and Grevillea streets in Hervey Bay. It was prowling along the footpath.
“One night I came outside our Dundowran house looking for our old cat. A fox had it bailed up and showed no fear even when I appeared. The cat was certainly going to be killed.”
Australia-wide foxes destroy 190 million native birds every year.
They particularly covet chickens by day or night.
One Dundowran Chronicle reader reports that she watched one fox arrive “dead on 12.30pm every day” to carry away her hens one by one.
“He, she even took our rooster but we could not catch that fox.”
Mr Dickfos said he had been told that foxes were a “real problem” in the Bay’s Botanic Gardens. “They are often too smart to go into the traps and headless turtles have been found around the lagoons.”
Residents may see more fox activity at this time of the year as they are on the move looking for mates or feeding pups, said council’s vector and pest animal control co-ordinator Col Zemek.
“We have not noticed an increase in the number of people contacting council about foxes,” he said. “Fox activity is not confined to one area. Residents across the region report fox activity but most calls come from urban areas.
“Foxes are opportunistic so they like urban areas because there is more food available and places to hide.”
Foxes are a Class Two Pest under the land Protection Act and it is the responsibility of landowners to control them.
Council can assist landowners in preparing management plans, with den destruction and trapping.
“Council has eight cage traps which residents can use,” Mr Zemek said. “We can also check to see if dens are active and destroy them and any foxes that might be living there.”
Mr Zemek encouraged rural landowners to group together to start eradication programs.
“Control programs are much more successful if they are co-ordinated.”
Pet owners, especially those with poultry and ducks, should ensure pens are adequately fenced or had enclosures to lock animals away at night to stop fox attacks.
Council encourages residents to report all feral animal sightings as part of its Report a Pest Program.
The information is used to create regional management plans.
Pest animal sightings can be reported the Vector and Pest Animal Control unit on 1300 794 929.
Information on pest animals is available on the FCRC website www.frasercoast.qld.gov.au, follow the link from the home page to Services and then pest control.