Saved from ‘scourge’: Program’s impact for wildlife revealed

European Red Fox

A decade-long campaign against a rampant feral predator has yielded fantastic results for our precious native species, latest data shows.

Sunshine Coast Council’s Coastal Fox Control Program runs from autumn to spring each year, with operations recently resuming for the tenth year.

With this season’s vital program now underway, Council analysis has found more than 45,000 animals have been saved through the program’s removal of 217 foxes through the program.

The program first began in 2015 in response to community concerns that European red fox numbers could decimate native fauna, including hatchlings of the endangered green and loggerhead turtles.

Council estimates that fox control throughout the program area since 2015 has saved about 8100 native small mammals, 27,100 birds, 9100 reptiles including turtle hatchlings and 600 macropods.

This data is based on studies of fox diets in our region in partnership with Department of Agriculture and Fisheries researchers.

Using data of animal remains in local fox scats, researchers developed a formula to estimate the number of animals a fox kills, and the number saved by removing the opportunistic predator.

How does the control program work?

The program aims to decrease fox populations at a time when they are most active and to reduce their predation on vulnerable native species, including the spotted tail quoll, water mouse, Eastern ground parrot, and of course turtles at the crucial egg and hatchling stage.

Turtle Hatchlings

Division 9 Councillor Maria Suarez said keeping fox numbers down required a strategic, consistent approach backed by research and supported by the community.

“Foxes are a scourge and have had a devastating impact on our native wildlife, all across Australia,” Cr Suarez said.

“Our community is closely connected to nature and wildlife, so it is imperative we maintain these efforts to continue nurturing and enhancing our environment and quality of life.

“This targeted program complements our ongoing fox control throughout our region.”

Stay safe around fox control operations

Council officers use soft-catch foothold traps and chemical controls in areas of known fox activity between April and November, including Council-managed and state-managed lands as well as some private properties.

Traps are checked daily or continuously by telemetry camera.

Division 8 Councillor Taylor Bunnag said all areas of operations for the program were clearly identified with warning signs at all entrances residents living in the area were notified in advance.

“This program covers a significant area stretching north of the Maroochy River to Peregian Springs,” Cr Bunnag said.

“We ask our residents and visitors to please heed all program signage and be sure to keep your pets out of vegetated areas for their safety.”

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, managing biosecurity, that includes invasive animals and plants, is a key responsibility of Council and every Sunshine Coast resident.

In spring, during denning season when foxes reproduce, a conservation dog team will sniff out any dens across the control area.

Foxes found in active dens are euthanised under Council’s policies and procedures and in line with Queensland’s animal welfare laws.

What’s the history of the red fox?

The European red fox was introduced to Australia for recreational hunting in 1855 and has become a significant contributor to native animal decline across the nation.

The fox survives in many different habitats, including urban, alpine and arid areas.

Outside urban areas, it appears to be most abundant in lightly wooded areas typically found in agricultural landscapes, offering a wide variety of shelter and food.

The European red fox is a restricted pest under the Queensland Government Biosecurity Act 2014.

What native wildlife do they threaten?

Foxes kill 567 million animals in Australia every year, according to figures released by the Invasive Species Council.

By removing foxes through the Coastal Fox Control Program, Council estimates it has potentially saved more than:

  • 3700 grassland melomys
  • 270 turtles
  • 650 ringtail possums
  • 3000 flying foxes

What to do if you spot a predator

If you spot a suspected fox den in the program area, report it to Council on 5475 7272. You can also view the fact sheet to learn how to identify a fox den on Council’s website.

The European red fox was introduced to Australia for recreational hunting in 1855 and has become a significant contributor to native animal decline across the nation.

The European red fox is a restricted pest under the Queensland Government Biosecurity Act 2014.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, managing biosecurity, which includes invasive animals and plants, is a key responsibility of Council and every Sunshine Coast resident.

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