European Red Fox Pest - Brought for Recreational Sport of Fox Hunting
There were no foxes in Australia prior to their introduction by European settlers in 1855.
Why was the Fox Brought to Australia?
European red foxes were first introduced to Victoria, Australia in about 1855 for use in the sport known as Fox Hunting.
How did Foxes in Australia become Invasive?
Foxes are very adaptable animals. Within just 100 years of their first arrival in Australia, foxes had spread across most of the country except the wet tropics.
The expansion of foxes across Australia closely followed the spread of rabbits, another introduced animal which has also become a pest. This was due to two reasons. Firstly, foxes were following a plentiful food supply, namely rabbits. The second reason was that humans continued to intentionally introduce foxes in areas that they had not been in before in order to control the population explosion of rabbits.
Foxes did not thrive on the island of Tasmania because of competition from the Tasmanian devil. Unfortunately in 1999/2000 they were reintroduced there by humans. (See story below).
It is estimated that there are about 7.5 million foxes in Australia.
Why the Fox is a Pest in Australia
Foxes are opportunistic predators and scavengers with indiscriminate eating habits.
Foxes Kill Australian Native Animals
Foxes are one of the the main reasons for the decline and extinction of many smaller Australian native marsupials and ground-nesting birds such as the night parrot. Foxes are considered a threat to 14 species of birds, 48 types of mammals, 12 varieties reptiles and 2 types of amphibians. It has been suggested that foxes contributed to the extinction of the Desert rat-kangaroo.
Foxes Kill Farm Animals and Livestock
The fox causes significant economic losses to farmers by preying on poultry, young lambs and goats.
Tasmanian Devil - Outfoxed the Fox
The only area in Australia where the fox did not thrived was on the island of Tasmania. It seems the Tasmanian Devil has outfoxed the fox by out-competing it. This is one of the rare examples where a native Australian animal has succeeded against an introduced one. Unfortunately for some insane reason foxes were reintroduced into Tasmania in 1999 at about the same time as the drastic decline of the Tasmanian devil population due to a disease known as Tasmanian Devil Facile Tumour Disease.
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