The red fox is a major threat to native wildlife, but its ecology and habits make them easier to control than feral cats.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a big threat to Australia’s endangered animals. Foxes were first released into Australia in the 1830s, however, it was not until the early 1900s that they really took off.
Unlike feral cats, foxes have not colonised the whole country. There is a boundary running approximately from the Pilbara, through Tennant Creek to Townsville which foxes are only found south of.
Threat to Wildlife
While feral cats are a threat to our wildlife, the red fox is arguably worse. Many endangered species of desert mammals have only been able to survive in parts of their ranges where foxes are rare, such as the bilby in southwest Queensland and the Pilbara.
Each fox is able to cause greater damage than each cat, as they are more likely to kill more than they can eat. For example, a single fox that snuck into the Arid Recovery reserve was able to kill more than five burrowing bettongs each night until it was removed.
How fox ecology aids control strategies
Although each individual fox is a major threat to wildlife, they are actually much easier to control than feral cats.
Foxes have a high-octane lifestyle and need to eat and drink a lot every night to survive. This comes with some major costs. As they have such high energy requirements, they die off quickly during droughts when prey becomes scarce.
As foxes require so much food, they’re also are not very fussy about what they eat. Carrion and garbage frequently turn up in their diet. This is a fortunate weakness for managing foxes, as it means they will readily eat poison baits.