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Keywords:

  • 1080;
  • agricultural production;
  • bait;
  • biodiversity conservation;
  • predation

ABSTRACT

  • 1
    The successful introduction of the red fox Vulpes vulpes into Australia in the 1870s has had dramatic and deleterious impacts on both native fauna and agricultural production. Historical accounts detail how the arrival of foxes in many areas coincided with the local demise of native fauna. Recent analyses suggest that native fauna can be successfully reintroduced to their former ranges only if foxes have been controlled, and several replicated removal experiments have confirmed that foxes are the major agents of extirpation of native fauna. Predation is the primary cause of losses, but competition and transmission of disease may be important for some species.
  • 2
    In agricultural landscapes, fox predation on lambs can cause losses of 1–30%; variation is due to flock size, health and management, as well as differences in the timing and duration of lambing and the density of foxes.
  • 3
    Fox control measures include trapping, shooting, den fumigation and exclusion fencing; baiting using the toxin 1080 is the most commonly employed method. Depending on the baiting strategy, habitat and area covered, baiting can reduce fox activity by 50–97%. We review patterns of baiting in a large sheep-grazing region in central New South Wales, and propose guidelines to increase landholder awareness of baiting strategies, to concentrate and coordinate bait use, and to maximize the cost-effectiveness of baiting programs.
  • 4
    The variable reduction in fox density within the baited area, together with the ability of the fox to recolonize rapidly, suggest that current baiting practices in eastern Australia are often ineffective, and that reforms are required. These might include increasing landholder awareness and involvement in group control programs, and the use of more efficient broadscale techniques, such as aerial baiting.