Predation by the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) - key threatening process listing

The Scientific Committee, established under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, has made a Final Determination to list Predation by the European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes (Linnaeus,1758) as a KEY THREATENING PROCESS in Schedule 3 of that Act. Listing of Key Threatening Processes is provided for in Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act.

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The European Red Fox is an adaptable and elusive predator common in rural and urban areas throughout southern Australia. It does not appear to favour any particular habitat and the main determinants of its population size and distribution appear to be food supply, disturbance of natural habitats and refuge availability.

2. The fox is predominantly carnivorous, and is largely opportunistic in its selection of prey. It also scavenges and, during warmer months, consumes wild fruit. It has been identified as a vector of weed species such as Bitou Bush Chrysanthemoides monilifera rotundata.

3. Predation by the fox is a major threat to the survival of native Australian fauna, with non-flying mammals weighing between 35g and 5 500g and ground-nesting birds at greatest risk. The high occurrence of severe declines and extinctions within this 'Critical Weight Range' for non-volant mammals was first described by Burbidge and McKenzie (1989) and is now recognised Australia-wide. Reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are also preyed upon by the fox.

4. Fox predation has been implicated in limiting habitat choice and population size of a number of medium-sized marsupials. Even at low densities foxes can eliminate remnant populations and jeopardise species recovery programs.

5. Localised declines of some medium-sized mammal species, including Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies, are directly attributable to fox predation. Foxes are also one of several factors which have been implicated in the disappearance of many medium-sized, ground-dwelling mammals from the arid and semi-arid regions of New South Wales.

6. The European Red Fox is currently threatening numerous Endangered and Vulnerable species in New South Wales, including the Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata, Hastings River Mouse Pseudomys oralis, Mountain Pygmy-possum Burramys parvus, Broad-toothed Rat Mastacomys fuscus, Long-footed Potoroo Potorous longipes, Little Tern Sterna albifrons, Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus, Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata, and Southern Brown Bandicoot Isoodon obesulus.

7. Numerous native species are potentially at risk of becoming threatened as a result of fox predation. Ground-nesting birds and critical weight range mammals such as bandicoots, dasyurids, possums and wallabies are at particular risk.

In view of 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 above the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Predation by the European Red Fox adversely affects more than two threatened species and could cause species and populations that are not threatened to become threatened.


Burbidge, A. A. and McKenzie, N. L. 1989. Patterns in the modern decline of Western Australia's vertebrate fauna: causes and conservation implications. Biol. Conserv. 50: 143-98.

Gazettal date: 20/3/98