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26 October 2016 Ranging behaviour and movements of the red fox in remnant forest habitats
Alison L. Towerton, Rodney P. Kavanagh, Trent D. Penman, Christopher R. Dickman
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Abstract

Context . The Eurasian red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a widespread pest in mixed agricultural and remnant forest habitats in southern Australia, and is controlled most commonly with baits containing poison (1080) to protect both agricultural and ecological assets. An understanding of fox movements in such habitats should assist in the strategic placement of baits and increase bait encounters by foxes across the landscape, thus improving the success of control efforts.

Aims . We seek to understand the ranges, movements and habitat use of foxes to aid the development of effective management plans. The fate of tracked animals was examined during a control program.

Methods . We radio-tracked 10 foxes using VHF transmitters and three foxes using GPS receivers during control operations in a remnant forest area near Dubbo, New South Wales. We used VHF location fixes to estimate fox range areas and GPS fixes to describe temporal and spatial aspects of fox movements and range use, focal points of activity and potential bait encounters. Selection of forest versus cleared areas was assessed, as was the impact of control operations on collared foxes.

Key results . Range areas (mean ± s.e.; 95% minimum convex polygon) for VHF- and GPS-tracked foxes were 420 ha ± 74 and 4462 ha ± 1799 respectively. Only small parts of range areas were visited on a daily basis, with little overlap. Animals were often within 200 m of roads and crossed or travelled on roads more than expected. At least 75% of collared foxes were probably poisoned in the control program.

Conclusions . Foxes occupy large ranges and move long distances in the study region, with little daily overlap, so successful defence of range areas is unlikely. Control efforts successfully poisoned foxes but also limited data collection because of reduced tracking periods.

Implications . The large and variable areas occupied by foxes suggested that control efforts need to be on-going, coordinated across the landscape, and use a minimum bait density of 0.5 baits per 100 ha in remnant forest habitat to ensure that gaps are minimised. Control operations should target roads and forest edges for bait placement, and increase the time that baits are available, to increase fox encounters and maximise the success of control efforts.

© CSIRO 2016
Alison L. Towerton, Rodney P. Kavanagh, Trent D. Penman, and Christopher R. Dickman "Ranging behaviour and movements of the red fox in remnant forest habitats," Wildlife Research 43(6), 492-506, (26 October 2016). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR15203
Received: 27 October 2015; Accepted: 1 July 2016; Published: 26 October 2016
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