European Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

Not Wanted!Status: Classified as vermin in Tasmania under the Vermin Control Act 2000.

The Vermin Control Act 2000 allows hunting at any time on Crown Land, State Forest and private land (with landowners permission).

Importation and possession of live foxes is prohibited in Tasmania. Information about the restrictions on importing foxes and fox products into Tasmania is available here.

Risk Assessment: Risk Assessment for Australia - European red fox


Identifying features

Full headshot of Fox (Photo courtesy of Daryl Panther)

European red fox 
Image: Daryl Panther

Foxes are a striking animal and their coat colour ranges from pale red to deep reddish brown or even grey on occasion. The underbelly is a contrasting white colour.

Fox legs, particularly the lower sections, are usually black, whilst the characteristic bushy tail is dark reddish brown to black, and tipped with white or black hairs. They have long black whiskers around the face.


History

Foxes were released in Victoria in 1871 for recreational hunting and spread rapidly. They were found in Queensland by 1907 and Western Australia by 1912.


Distribution

Foxes are now widespread throughout mainland Australia (outside the tropics) and it is estimated that they have spread across 76% of the continent. The rapid spread of foxes in Australia was linked to the spread of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), and assisted by deliberate human introductions to new areas.

Tasmania has a long history of fox incursions and introductions have been recorded in literature in 1864, 1882, 1890, 1910, 1911, 1912 and 1972.

More recently, a fox was reported escaping from a container ship in Burnie in 1998. There are also (unsubstantiated) reports of multiple litters being reared and released in the Northern Midlands during the period 1935-1970 but, if they existed, the fate of these litters is unknown

View recorded distribution information in Natural Values Atlas
View recorded distribution information in PestSmart

     

Environmental impacts

Foxes are a primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized rodent and marsupial species in Australia. They also prey on many bird species. An assessment of the environmental impact of the fox in Tasmania reveals they could kill prey of up to 5 kg and predate on 77 native species (including 10 threatened species). Foxes could compete with Tasmania's native carnivores and occupy a niche vacated by a declining devil population.


Reproduction

In Australia, foxes generally breed between June and October. Litter sizes can range from one to twelve, with average litter sizes being three to six pups. Litter sizes can increase with higher food availability and with the age of females.


Control measures

Foxes are not wanted in Tasmania. All members of the Tasmanian public and visitors to the state are asked to be vigilant for foxes and signs of their activity. Many detections of invasive species, including foxes, are often made because a member of the public reports an initial sighting.

Biosecurity is a shared responsibility and everyone has a role to play in keeping Tasmania free of pests, diseases and weeds.

Please report all fox sightings and any possible evidence of fox activity in Tasmania to the Invasive Species Hotline on 1300 369 688.


Did you know...?

A fox's tail not only aids its balance but also acts as a warm cover when sleeping in cold weather and is used as a "signal flag" to other foxes.


Further information

Please report all fox sightings and any possible evidence of fox activity in Tasmania to the Invasive Species Hotline on 1300 369 688.

The PestSmart Toolkit provides information and guidance on best-practice invasive animal management on several key vertebrate pest species including rabbits, foxes, feral pigs and feral cats.


See other invasive mammals:

Feral cats | European rabbits | Feral pigs | Feral goats | Ferrets | Wild dogs

See other invasive species:

Birds | Freshwater species | Other species

Contact

Invasive Species Enquiries
Invasive Species Branch
165 Westbury Road
PROSPECT TAS 7250
Phone: 03 6777 2200
Fax: 03 6336 5453
Email: invasivespecies@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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