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Pest animals

All property owners are responsible for managing declared pest  including rabbits, foxes and wild dogs. Find information and advice on control methods for pest animals and more.

A feral animal is one that has escaped from a domestic or captive status and is living more or less as wild, or one that is descended from such animals. Some feral animals have been declared as pest species under NSW legislation.

Pest animals present a significant threat to our biosecurity, economy, environment, and community well-being.

Land managers and the community experience impacts of pest animals such as , harm to pets or livestock and wildlife, increased grazing pressures, asset damage and competition with native wildlife.

Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 framework public, private and Aboriginal Land Managers have a shared responsibility to prevent, eliminate and minimise biosecurity risks, including pest animals.

The Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023 (Greater Sydney Local Land Services) identifies priority pest species for the region and outlines general control and management actions that landowners can undertake to meet their biosecurity duty. The plan identifies the following priority pest species:

  • wild dog
  • feral pig
  • red fox
  • wild rabbit
  • wild deer (all species)
  • cats
  • feral goats
  • Indian myna
  • common carp.

For further information, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) provides details about pest and nuisance animals. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) provides advice about common problems when living with native animals.

The presence of pest animals should be reported to the Greater Sydney Local Land Service, for information and advice on control methods.

Sightings of unusual animals should be reported to NSW DPI, or alternatively phone 1800 680 244.

Red fox

European red foxes were introduced to Australia by English settlers in the mid to late 1800s. The fox is an adaptable and opportunistic predator and scavenger with few natural predators in Australia. Foxes are now widely distributed across the Australian mainland.

Why are foxes a problem?

Evidence identifies foxes as a primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized native animals in Australia. Foxes also prey on many bird and reptile species.

In Council’s natural areas, we have recorded fox predation of native birds, such as the ground-nesting endangered Little Tern, as well as small to medium sized marsupials including Swamp Wallaby, Brushtailed and Ringtailed Possums and Northern Brown Bandicoot.

Predation by the European Red Fox is listed as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. To manage the threat the NSW Government has developed the Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by the Red Fox.

Foxes are also a threat to domestic pets and chickens and can spread diseases, parasites, as well as any weeds that they feed on.

Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, pest animals are any species (other than native species) that present a biosecurity threat. The Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan identifies foxes as a biosecurity threat in our region and outlines actions land managers can take to minimise their risk and impacts.

Fox control program

Strategic ongoing large-scale control programs are required to reduce fox densities in priority areas. Council is responsible for fox control on Council managed land, in particular our natural areas.

Council’s fox control program aims to reduce the impacts of fox predation on native animals, especially threatened species, in natural areas including the Coastal Open Space System (COSS). Fox control activities include shooting, baiting, trapping, fumigation and fencing. Council also conducts ongoing scientific surveys of native animals to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Where and when is fox control happening?

Targeted fox control activities are being conducted in the following locations:
• Rumbalara Reserve (Gosford-Springfield)*
• Wells/Morella Close Reserve (Springfield)
Barinya Lane Bushland and Bush Reserves (Springfield)
• Katandra Reserve (Holgate)*
• Ferntree Close Reserve (Mt Elliot-Wyoming-Lisarow)*
• Barwon Road Reserve (Wyoming)
• Awabakil Road Bush Reserve (Holgate)
• The Ridgeway Reserve (Matcham)*
• Triple Springs Bush Reserve (Matcham)*
• Halloran (Stimsons Lane) Bushland
• Kenmare Road Reserve (Green Point)
• Kincumba Mountain Regional Reserve (Kincumber-Green Point)*
• The Scenic Road Bushland Reserve (Kincumber)*
• Bradleys Road Bushland (North Avoca)
• Saratoga Conservation Area (Saratoga)
• The Entrance to Soldiers Beach (select Council managed land only)
• Berkeley Vale Wetland reserve, Bundeena Road Reserve and Fountaindale Ridge Reserve (Glenning Valley).

*Includes 1080 poison ground baiting in Autumn 2024 (29 April - 7 June 2024). 

A map showing the location of these reserves can be viewed here.

Pet owners are encouraged to keep their pets safe and prevent them from entering these reserves at all times. Dogs are prohibited in all Coastal Open Space System (COSS) reserves and, if found, enforcement action may ensue. Council has many locations to exercise your dog, for more information see the dog parks, beaches and off leash locations page.

Fox baiting

Fox baiting involves the use of 1080 poison baits – which is lethal to cats and dogs. The community is notified about baiting programs in natural areas through local newspapers, letters to adjoining residents, signage in reserves and Council’s website. Council also notifies local vets and animal hospitals about the baiting program.

Fox baiting is conducted in a strategic and controlled manner in accordance with all relevant legislation, including the Pesticide Control (1080 Bait Products) Order 2020, and best practice guidelines.

Baits containing 1080 poison are buried where foxes are known to be active. Burying the baits minimises the potential they will be taken by non-target animals. Bait stations are monitored before and during baiting to detect any non-target activity and action taken to reduce the risk. In some areas, Canid Pest Ejectors (CPE) containing 1080 poison may be used to reduce the risk to non-target animals.

The public MUST NOT touch any bait station or CPE.

Many Australian native animals have a lower susceptibility to 1080 because more than 30 Australian native plants produce sodium fluoroacetate; a synthetic version of this natural chemical is used in 1080 baits. The concentrations of 1080 used for fox control is extremely low and not lethal to humans. 1080 breaks down in water, soil and carcasses over time and has limited impact on the environment.

When is fox baiting occurring?

Council will be conducting 1080 poison ground baiting targeting foxes in selected natural areas (see those marked in list above) from 29 April-7 June 2024

A map showing the location of these reserves can be viewed here

How should I keep my pet safe?

WARNING: 1080 is lethal to cats and dogs.

It only takes one 1080 poison bait to kill a cat or a dog. All domestic animals must be kept out of 1080 fox baiting areas. Pet and working dog owners are encouraged to keep their animals safe by restraining them to prevent them from entering reserves. In the event of accidental poisoning, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Dogs are prohibited in all Coastal Open Space System (COSS) reserves and, if found, enforcement action may ensue. Council has many locations to exercise your dog, for more information see the dog parks, beaches and off leash locations page.

Other wild dog and fox control programs on the Central Coast

Greater Sydney Local Land Services coordinate an integrated wild dog and fox control program on the Central Coast that includes the use of 1080 wild dog and fox ground baits and Canid Pest Ejectors. For further information refer to their website.

National Parks and Wildlife Service also conduct wild dog and fox control programs, including 1080 poison baiting, in local National Parks. View current alerts for Brisbane Water, Popran, Watagans, Yengo National Parks and Parr State Conservation Area.

Report fox sightings

You can play your part in managing foxes by reporting fox sightings, signs of fox activity, den locations and attacks on native or domestic animals in FoxScan. FoxScan is a free resource for residents, community groups, local Councils, and other land managers to record and report fox sightings and control activities. Council monitors entries into FoxScan and the information assists in planning fox control activities.

What else can you do?

Other steps you can take to reduce fox activity in your area include:
• Never feeding foxes or leaving food scraps or pet food outside overnight.
• Keeping bin lids closed and using enclosed compost bins. 
• Ensuring chicken coops and rabbit hutches are fox-proof and securing animals overnight. 
• Preventing access to the underneath of buildings. 
• Removing weeds that provide food and shelter, such as blackberries, and collecting fallen fruit around fruit trees. 
•Joining a volunteer environmental group and helping to protect and restore native fauna habitat in our natural areas.

Further information about foxes or controlling them on your land is available from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

For any enquiries relating to Council's fox control program, please call 02 4306 7900 or submit a question online.

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