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Feral Animal Control


NEW: Report Fox Sightings in Lane Cove and northern Sydney region to FOXSCAN

Council invites residents to report their fox sightings to assist with fox control in the region.

Australia's native plants and animals adapted to life on an isolated continent over millions of years. Ever since European settlement our native species have had to compete with a whole new range of introduced animals. These new pressures have also caused a major impact on our country's soil and waterways. With an ever growing human population and development of land, the bushland reserves we have left are even more important for our native plants and animals to survive in.

In Australia feral animals have few natural predators or fatal diseases they also tend to have high reproductive rates. The combinations of these factors can result in feral populations multiplying rapidly if conditions are favourable. 

Feral animals can carry the same common diseases as domestic animals.

Following frequent concerns from the community about feral animals, a control program was implemented in 2001. This program targeted the large numbers of rabbits breeding around the Carrisbrook House and old bowling club area at Burns Bay Rd, and foxes in the bush land area north of Blackman Park. The population of these feral animals were increasing, resulting in damage to the parks and surrounds and loss of wildlife, in particular birds and possums. We also consider the damage caused by feral animals in context with other factors, such as land use, climate and weeds.

Council's role in Feral Animal control 

The objective for managing the majority of established feral animals is to reduce the damage caused by pest species in the most cost-effective manner. This may involve localised eradication, periodic reduction of feral numbers, sustained reduction of feral numbers, removal of the most destructive individuals or exclusion of feral animals from an area.

There are a number of control methods available for feral animals. These methods include conventional control techniques and biological control. Conventional control methods for feral animals include trapping, baiting, fencing and shooting.

Council adheres to the guidelines for humane treatment and removal during the implementation of any feral animal control program, such as those outlined in the relevant Threat Abatement Plan, as well as adhering to animal welfare requirements that apply to the State of NSW.  

Lane Cove Council is also a member of the Urban Feral Animal Action Group (UFAAG) which was established in 1998. The Action Group is comprised of key land management agencies of the Sydney North Region. The Action Group aims to share information and raise awareness about urban feral animals, educate agency members and develop the skills required to effectively manage pest animals.


A rabbit management plan has been developed by UFAAG and has been endorsed by each agency represented on the group in order to develop and continue implementing strategic rabbit control across Northern Sydney. The plan provides information on rabbit biology, ecology, history, roles and responsibilities of member agencies, outlines best practice methodologies and guidelines for planning and implementing rabbit control.  The plan aims to reduce the environmental, agricultural and urban impacts caused by rabbits in the Sydney North Region and will assist agencies to fulfil their statutory obligations under the Rural Lands Protection Act, 1998.

Each agency has identified reserves affected by rabbits under their management and specific rabbit control strategies have been developed for each reserve in the form of an annual action plan.

Effective rabbit control requires integration of different methods. Any single technique used in isolation is less effective than two or more techniques carefully combined. When reliance is placed on only one technique and follow-up control is not implemented, initial gains are lost as rabbits will readily recolonise in the absence of further control.  

The biological control method used is the rabbit calici​virus disease (rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus). This has proved more effective in wetter parts of the country than in drier regions. Australia currently has only one strain of calicivirus which is relatively stable.  It is found rabbits are developing genetic resistance to infection. Research is being undertaken to identify new field strains to release in Australia. Council releases Calicivirus periodically in conjunction with other members of UFAAG.

Council recommends that pet owners keep their pet rabbits vaccinated to protect against calicivirus. For feral rabbit issues on public property, please contact Council on 9911 3555.


Foxes are scheduled as a Key Threatening Process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act and have been declared pest species by the NSW government. They are major predators of wildlife.

As part of the Sydney North Regional Fox Control Program, Council aims to ensure the long term recovery and protection of native fauna (including threatened species) across northern Sydney by reducing fox numbers over time. The program is multi agency and multi tenure, it requires (and achieves) considerable liaison and cooperation between agencies.

Control of urban foxes is made complex by their interactions and proximity with humans. Foxes are extremely cunning and difficult to trap. Council has found that the most effective and humane method of fox control is through the implementation of a strategic shooting program, conducted under strict controls. Fox baiting using 1080 baits is an alternative control method and can be done in designated areas under a permit from NSW Agriculture. Any fox baiting program undertaken by Council shall take place at least 150m from any residential dwelling. Public notifications and advertisements will inform the community if and when any fox baiting program is conducted by Council.

An additional aim of the regional fox control program is to raise public awareness and educate people about the impacts of foxes and the need for feral animal control in urban areas. Agencies are now reporting success through formal fox activity monitoring and native fauna surveys and also anecdotal evidence from the community. Community feedback and media indicate that a majority of the community support fox control and the resultant benefits to native animals.

If you have fox problems or have seen a fox, please contact Council on 9911 3555. You may also register your sighting at FOXSCAN