Baiting with 1080 poison (sodium fluoroacetate) can be very effective in reducing fox numbers. Used with care, it can be safe for humans, non-target animals and the environment.
Sodium fluoroacetate is a Schedule 7 poison and a restricted chemical product. In WA its use and supply is bound by the Code of practice for the safe use and management of 1080 in Western Australia. It is only available to authorised suppliers and users (including Licensed Pest Management Technicians) who are trained to handle, store and use it safely. This information should be read in conjunction with the landholders' manual for the Safe use and management of 1080.
Trained landholders can purchase bait products containing 1080 after they have obtained baiting approval from an authorised officer of the Department of Agriculture Food, Western Australia (DAFWA).
Important requirements when using 1080 include:
- notification of your neighbours
- erection of warning signs
- careful use of 1080 in high risk areas
- responsible security, storage and disposal of 1080 baits
- personal safety.
Please note : There is no antidote for 1080 poisoning.
1080 is a naturally occurring compound that is quickly broken down in the environment. Many native animals have developed a high degree of tolerance to 1080 while foxes (and domestic dogs and cats) are very sensitive to the poison. To learn more, watch this animation produced by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.
Effective poisoning periods
The most effective fox control is achieved during late winter and spring. At this time food demands are high as foxes are rearing young. Foxes are also less mobile so reinfestation of baited areas can be delayed.
At other times (especially autumn) foxes are more mobile. Baiting will only temporarily reduce numbers, as new animals will move in to replace resident animals that have been killed. Consequently baiting may need to be repeated to achieve maximum control.
Community baiting drives
A district-wide campaign involving community groups can reduce the extent and speed of reinfestation as a large area is baited simultaneously. Such efforts are also more cost-effective. These baiting drives rely on co-operation amongst all landholders to achieve effective fox control.
How many baits?
The recommended bait density for Western Australia is 5 baits/km² (that is, 5/100ha). Research, in this State, has shown that at this rate at least 80% of foxes should be killed but an increased bait density does not appear to increase the overall number of foxes killed. When areas of fox activity can be specifically targeted, fewer baits will be required. Information on 1080 registered bait products and the rates to be laid are described in the information sheet: Rates of lay for 1080 / strychnine products.
Where to lay baits
Individual baits should be placed at least 200m apart; otherwise one fox may find and eat more than one bait. Baits should be laid at strategic points (see map) including:
- where fox tracks are regularly seen
- along water courses, tracks and at fencelines where foxes regularly travel
- at prominent points within paddocks (jutting corners, rock piles, posts)
- under or near carcasses visited by foxes.
Refer to directions for use to ensure that requirements such as minimum distances from boundaries are met.
How to lay baits
The position of all baits should be marked with marker tape, pegs or something similar so they are easy to recover as required, at the end of the control campaign.
In areas where there are farms and reserves near closely settled areas, meat baits should be:
- buried about 10-20mm below the soil surface to reduce the risk of poisoning non-target animals that seldom dig for baits, or
- tethered by a length of light wire or similar to prevent them being moved (for example, by birds).
In areas where there are typical rural properties with low numbers of people, meat baits can be buried, tethered or hidden under vegetation, small rocks or fallen timber so that birds cannot see them.
In all areas, egg baits should always be buried 20-100mm below the soil surface to decrease hazards to non-target animals.
Improving the percentage of baits taken
- individual baits should be available to foxes for about 10 days
- check baits at least every two days to assess ‘take’
- if a fox takes a bait, keep replacing it until no more are removed
- relocate uneaten baits to areas where others have been taken.
Foxes more quickly locate baits laid on a scent trail that is broken between baits. Do not use a continuous scent trail as an individual fox can take and cache many baits.
Foxes poisoned with 1080 are seldom located. This can give the false impression that baiting is not effective.
- warn your neighbours before baiting and put up warning signs
- keep dogs and cats restrained while baits are out
- retrieve and dispose of all uneaten fox baits, and containers at the end of the control campaign
- wash your clothes and hands after handling baits.
Remember foxes and other animals, especially birds, can move baits, so follow the recommended procedures to minimise this risk.
For further advice and assistance in controlling foxes, continue searching our website or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service.