Behaviour, temporal activity, and control of the red fox in the city
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 03:14 authored by Margarita Gil Fernández
Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are an invasive predator implicated in the decline and extinction of many Australian native species, and are thought to thrive better in urban than in natural areas. We investigated the behaviour of foxes towards a novel object (a control device – canid pest ejector), temporal activity, and interactions with potential prey and domestic predators, by comparing behaviour among site types and to several environmental variables. We assessed the risk of using this device via visitation by domestic dogs, and in relation to distance from human habitations. We used camera-traps in 16 sites around Sydney to record temporal activity, visitation, and behaviour of our study species. Our major finding was that foxes behaved more confidently in urban areas and under high vegetation cover than in sites within peri-urban areas and low vegetation cover. Foxes appeared slightly more nocturnal in urban areas, where they have a higher temporal activity overlap with introduced mammals, than in peri-urban areas. Only two non-canid species were recorded pulling-up the ejector, confirming its high target-specificity. The ejectors could be effective in urban areas as a method of control. They could be safely deployed in sites with effective dog restrictions, regardless of the distance from human habitation.