Drought causes increase in fox sightings in southern Sydney

Foxy behaviour: Georges River Council residents will also be encouraged to report fox sightings on the Fox Scan website, which is part of the Feral Scan.
Foxy behaviour: Georges River Council residents will also be encouraged to report fox sightings on the Fox Scan website, which is part of the Feral Scan.

The drought and lack of food are forcing foxes to become more brazen in southern Sydney with recent daylight sightings instead of at night when they usually roam.

Following the increase in the fox population, Georges River Council is expected to write to Bayside and Sutherland Councils to investigate an Integrated Fox Management Plan to start gathering data in spring with a culling program to be implemented in autumn, 2019.

The council will also update its website, educating residents on the behaviour of foxes and how to minimise their impact on the urban environment.

Residents will also be encouraged to report fox sightings on the Fox Scan website, which is part of the Feral Scan.

The measures are seen as urgent with Georges River Council working to create biodiversity corridors to encourage native species to flourish within the local government area.

Over the next 12 months, the council will be updating its previous Biodiversity Plans to align with the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Green Grid to encourage, monitor and maintain habitats for native animal species.

Georges River Council was part of the Southern Sydney Fox Management Group (SSFMG) which started in 2015 and included 14 other Sydney metropolitan councils and the Royal Botanic Gardens  which together conducted coordinated fox management activities.

This was supported by Federal Government funding of $256,000 and $200,000 in in-kind support from the participating councils.

The Sydney Fox Management Group undertook a number of actions including ground baiting of foxes, fumigation of fox dens and trapping of foxes, and encouraging the community to report fox sightings on Fox Scan.

A total of eight foxes were removed from the Georges River Council local government area with a total of 151 foxes removed across the whole 15 councils areas through the 18 month grant program.

As part of the project, Fox Scan, a fox-specific south Sydney portal of the Feral Scan website was set-up to allow residents to report fox sightings across the region.

Funding for the project ended late last year and the Sydney Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) agreed to develop a Sydney Pest Animal Action Network.

Georges River Council will take part in a meeting of Sydney Pest Animal Network in mid-October to help to develop a program of dealing with foxes, pests and feral animals.

NSW Local Land Services (Greater Sydney Region) have also contacted the council to assist a regional group of councils to carry out an Integrated Fox Management program and provide advice on the culling of the fox populations.

This would involve surveys and studies of the fox population, installation of radio tracking and infrared cameras and the culling of fox populations.

This will include data gathered from the Fox Scan website on recent fox sightings.

The council will step up its education program to raise awareness of the issues around the  increasing fox population and Fox Scan website.

The website recommends a number of tips for residents to reduce fox problems:

  • Don’t leave pet food outside overnight
  • Use enclosed compost bins
  • Keep domestic animals secure at night
  • Remove fallen fruit around fruit trees
  • Keep garbage bins covered
  • Block entry points to drains
  • Close off access to underneath buildings
  • Use fox-proof enclosures for poultry
  • Turn-off outside lights that might attract insects
  • Reduce weeds that provide food and shelter, such as Blackberries
  • Record sightings in FoxScan.

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