Targeted control of widespread exotic species for biodiversity conservation: The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in New South Wales, Australia


  • Paul S. Mahon

  • Paul Mahon is the carnivore pests project officer within the Parks and Wildlife Group of the Department of Environment and Climate Change New South Wales (PO Box 1967, Hurstville BC, NSW 1481, Australia; Email: Paul is on secondment to the Scientific Services Division to lead the fauna and threatened species themes of the New South Wales Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy.


Summary  Widespread exotic species provide one of the greatest challenges to biodiversity conservation because they often have devastating impacts on native biota but are near impossible to eradicate. The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is established across most of mainland Australia, where it has been linked to severe declines and extinctions of a broad suite of native fauna. A targeted approach to reducing the impacts of Foxes on biodiversity was instigated in New South Wales in 2001 under the New South Wales Fox Threat Abatement Plan. It is based on three simple steps. First, explicit priorities for Fox control are established by identifying which native species are at greatest risk from Fox predation and at which sites Fox control for these species is most critical. Second, high-frequency broad-area Fox-control programmes are established across all land tenures at these priority sites. Third, monitoring programmes are established to measure the response of targeted native fauna and Foxes to Fox control. Monitoring helps refine the priorities for control and the methods used over time. This approach provides a model for the strategic control of widespread exotic pests which threaten biodiversity.