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Individual study: The red fox in Australia - an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent

Published source details

Kinnear J.E., Sumner N.R. & Onus M.L. (2002) The red fox in Australia - an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation, 108, 335-359


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Release translocated/captive-bred mammals in areas with invasive/problematic species eradication/control Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1992–1996 in a forest reserve in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that following baiting with poison to control red foxes Vulpes vulpes, a translocated population of woylies Bettongia penicillata persisted over four years. Four years after translocation into a site where red foxes were controlled, eight woylies were captured in one part of the site and 59 in another part. Foxes were controlled using poisoned baits started in 1985 in one part of the Boyagin Nature Reserve (4,780 ha) and in 1989 in another part of the reserve. Baits (1080-poison meat baits or intact fowl eggs) were deployed monthly. Forty woylies (28 female, 12 male) were translocated to the reserve in 1992. No further details of the translocation are provided. Woylies were live-trapped over 150 trap nights in each part of the reserve in 1996, using baited wire cage traps set at 100-m intervals. Traps were set at dusk and cleared each morning.

(Summarised by Phil Martin)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after, site comparison study in 1979–1990 on two islands in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that following control of red foxes Vulpes vulpes using poisoned baits, numbers of Rothschild’s rock-wallaby Petrogale rothschildi increased. Results were not tested for statistical significance. After six years of fox control, wallaby numbers were higher (8.8 sightings/hour) than before control (0.3 sightings/hour). During the same period, numbers remained stable on a nearby fox free island (before: 18.7; after: 19.2 sightings/hour). Foxes were controlled by baiting on Dolphin island (3,203 ha), Dampier Archipelago. Meat baits or intact fowl eggs, laced with 1080-poison, were deployed manually in limited areas in October 1980 and May 1981 and then deployed aerially on a larger scale, three times from September 1984 to October 1989. Foxes were also controlled on neighbouring islands and the nearby mainland to prevent immigration (see original paper for details). In 1979–1980 and in 1990, spotlight counts of rock-wallabies were carried out on both Dolphin Island and the nearby fox-free Enderby Island (3,290 ha). Surveys were conducted on foot using a long range 100-W spotlight (1979-1980: 10; 1990: 4 hours of surveying). No fox abundance data are provided.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1979–1998 in a forest reserve in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that after baiting with poison to control red foxes Vulpes vulpes, numbers of woylies Bettongia penicillata, brush-tail possums Trichosurus vulpecula and tammar wallabies Macropus eugenii increased. Results were not tested for statistical significance. After eight years of fox control, numbers were higher than before control for woylies (after: 1.3; before: 0.0 sightings/hour, after: 0.2-0.3; before: 0.0 individuals/trap night), brush-tail possums (after: 7.7; before: 0.4 sightings/hour) and tammar wallabies (after: 9.4; before: 0.4 sightings/hour). Numbers of tammar wallabies continued to increase up to 14 years after the start of fox control (40 sightings/hour). Foxes were controlled by baiting from 1984 in Tutanning Nature Reserve (2,200 ha). Baits (1080-poison meat baits or intact fowl eggs) were deployed monthly. Mammals were surveyed in 1979–1998 by repeated spotlight counts along 50 circuits near to the boundary of the reserve (circuit length is not provided). Woylies were also monitored using cage traps at 100 m intervals on 1 km-long transects (380 trap nights in 1979; 322 trap nights in 1984; 320 trap nights in 1989; 266 trap nights in 1992). Spotlight searches were conducted using long range 100-W lights.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1987-1998 in a forest reserve in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that after baiting with poison to control red foxes Vulpes vulpes, numbers of brush-tail possums Trichosurus vulpecula and tammar wallabies Macropus eugenii increased. Results were not tested for statistical significance. Three years after the start of fox control, numbers of tammar wallaby (105.2 sightings/hour) and brush-tail possums (10.5 sightings/hour) increased compared to prior to fox control (wallabies: 4.8 sightings/hour; brush-tail possums: 0 sightings/hour). Numbers of tammar wallabies (61.7 sightings/hour) and brush-tail possums (6.3 sightings/hour) remained higher nine years after fox control started. Foxes were controlled using poison baits (1080-poison meat baits or intact fowl eggs) from 1989 in a separate annex of Tutanning Nature Reserve (114 ha). Mammals were surveyed in 1987, 1992 and 1998 by repeated spotlight counts using long range 100 W lights.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after, site comparison study in 1985–1996 in a forest reserve in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that after baiting with poison to control red foxes Vulpes vulpes, numbers of brush-tail possums Trichosurus vulpecula and tammar wallabies Macropus eugenii increased and translocated woylies Bettongia penicillata were still present. Results were not tested for statistical significance. Numbers of brush-tail possums and tammar wallabies were higher in an area where foxes had been baited for seven years than in an area baited for three years (brush-tail possums: 9.1 vs 0.3; tammar wallabies: 1.8 vs 0.0). Four years after translocation, woylies, which were absent prior to fox control, were found to number eight individuals on the east side and 59 on the west side. Foxes were controlled by baiting from 1985 in the east area of the Boyagin Nature Reserve (4,780 ha) and from 1989 in the west. Baits (1080-poison meat baits or intact fowl eggs) were deployed monthly. Mammals were surveyed in 1989-1992 by repeated spotlight counts using long range 100-W lights and cage traps at 100 m intervals on 1 km-long transects in 1992 and 1996 (150 trap nights/area). In total 40 woylies were translocated in 1992 (20 released in the east and 20 in the west area).

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1970–1992 in a forest reserve in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that after baiting with poison to control red foxes Vulpes vulpes, numbers of woylies Bettongia penicillata and brush-tail possums Trichosurus vulpecula increased, but tammar wallabies Macropus eugenii numbers did not. Results were not tested for statistical significance. Three years after the start of widespread fox control, overall numbers of individuals were higher than before control for woylies (after: 27.7; before: 1.2 sightings/hour) and brush-tail possums (after: 22.3; before: 2.8 sightings/hour) but tammar wallaby sightings remained infrequent (0 sightings/hour). Ten years after baiting began in a restricted area where fox control was tested before widespread control commenced, numbers of individuals were higher than before control for woylies (after: 23; before: 0.4 sightings/hour), brush-tail possums (after: 9.9; before 2.0 sightings/hour) and tammar wallabies (after: 1.23; before: 0.5 sightings/hour). Foxes were controlled by baiting in a restricted area from 1982, and across the whole reserve from 1989 in a 12,000 ha forest fragment in Dryandra Woodlands. Baits (1080-poison meat baits or intact fowl eggs) were deployed monthly. Mammals were surveyed before fox control in 1970-1971 (75 hours), once the restricted area baiting trial had commenced in 1987 (5 hours) and 1989 (8 hours), and after baiting had been extended to the whole reserve in 1990 (4.5 hours) and 1992 (5.7 hours). Repeated spotlight surveys were conducted along 49 routes using long range 100-W lights (route length is not provided). Woylies were also trapped in cages (see original paper for details).

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)

Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A site comparison study in 1991–1998 in a national park in Western Australia, Australia (Kinnear et al. 2002) found that after baiting with poison to control red fox Vulpes vulpes, numbers of brush-tail possums Trichosurus vulpecula and tammar wallabies Macropus eugenii increased. Results were not tested for statistical significance. Four years after the start of fox control, brush-tail possum and wallaby numbers were higher in areas where foxes were controlled than in areas where they were not (possums: 19.3 vs 1.1 sightings/hour; wallabies: 5.47 vs 0.0 sightings/hour). Trapping success rates for brush-tail possums were higher in baited compared to unbaited areas and increased every year in fox control areas (see original paper for details). Foxes were controlled in half of the 329,000-ha Fitzgerald River National Park. The other half of the park was left unbaited. Baits (dried meat with 4.5 mg of 1080 poison) were distributed aerially twice a year in 1991-1995 at a density of six baits/km2. Supplementary bait was also distributed in some areas by vehicle in 1995-1996. Mammals were surveyed by repeated spotlight surveys using long range 100-W lights (unbaited area: 9.4 hours in 1994-1995; baited area: 17.1 hours in 1993-1996) and trapping (possums only) in 1994-1998 (4 km long trap lines with 40 traps set at 100 m intervals).

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)