Fox deterrents not fox death at Sydney Boys High School

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Sydney Fox and Dingo Rescue were recently contacted about a family of foxes at risk of being killed in an area surrounding a Sydney School. THIS WEEKEND SYDNEY BOYS HIGH PLAN TO GAS THE FAMILY OF FOXES USING LETHAL CARBON MONOXIDE GAS.

Email or call them to let them know that you do not agree with this cruel and unscientific killing. 

 02 9662 9300


We would like to urge the school to consider other humane alternatives to both deter the foxes and co-exist with these animals in compassionate, kind ways.

The school is concerned that the foxes might be preying on possums on the school grounds. Research in NSW by CSIRO shows that the vast majority of red foxes diet is in fact other introduced species- primarily rabbit and house mouse as well as insects, carrion/roadkill, plants and fruit. Less than 3% of foxes had stomach contents containing possum (JD Croft, LJ Hone - Wildlife Research, 1978 & GE Ryan, JD Croft - Wildlife Research, 1974). Foxes are a similar size to brush tail possums (the most common possum in Sydney) and rarely prey on animals this large. While they are a possible risk to ring tail possums, so are cats, dogs, birds of prey and other animals. We would urge the school to consider putting in place high possum boxes in trees to provide better shelter to possums that might be at risk.


It is currently fox breeding season. This means the fox family likely have babies. Sydney Boys High plan to kill all of them.

Carbon monoxide gas is a legal method of killing foxes in New South Wales. This gas is listed by the NSW Government website pestsmart as “extremely hazardous to humans as it is highly toxic and difficult to detect. Exposure from inhalation of carbon monoxide fumes can cause fatal poisoning.” The school administration want to bring cartridges of this toxic substance to a school.

Killing animals with Carbon Monoxide gas is also listed by the NSW government as a “very slow” death. As well as “not suitable for animals that hold their breath (eg diving or burrowing birds and mammals)”. Foxes are once such burrowing animal. Because fox dens are not a closed system, and often have multiple exits, the use of gas can either result in a slow and painful death or debilitating brain damage from exposure to not enough gas to kill them, typically leading to death by starvation.

The foxes have kits at this time of year. The NSW government website pestsmart states: “Inhalant methods [gas] are also not ideal for neonatal animals as they are relatively resistant to hypoxia. Carbon monoxide, may take longer to cause unconsciousness and death in neonatal animals compared with adult animals. it is recommended that inhalant agents not be used as a sole method of euthanasia in neonatal animals less than 16 weeks old.”

Hypoxia caused by carbon monoxide poisoning is not a humane or painless way to die.

Symptoms of acute carbon monoxide poisoning in animals include headache, stomach upsets, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and seizure, leading to coma and death. Chronic poisoning that does not result in death can also cause extreme fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and motor disorders/lack of motor control.


Foxes are not going away and we need to find more compassionate ways to live with them.

Red foxes have lived in Sydney since the 1840’s. There are around 120,000 foxes in Sydney, living across both the city and outer suburbs. Foxes are a normal part of urban life and they are here to stay. They also help control rat and rabbit populations.

It is illegal to trap and relocate foxes and even if this family were successfully trapped they would have to be euthanised under current NSW legislation.

Foxes are not a threat to humans. They are timid, cautious animals and prefer to come out at night. We do not have rabbies in Australia and foxes are not at risk of transmitting disease to humans.

Foxes live in large family groups and have populations across Sydney. Killing one fox, or even a family of foxes will not create a fox free area. We know that foxes from neighbouring areas will simply expand into the territory and more foxes will breed to compensate and increase the population (in a stable fox family not all females are breeding animals).


There are proven, quality fox deterrence options that the school could invest in to deter foxes from high traffic areas in the school or areas where they do not want the foxes.

1. Secure bins and remove food scraps
2. Block off the underneath of buildings
3. Purchase “fox lights” these solar powered lights are used both in Australia and over seas to emulate a person with a torch and flash in difference colours to deter foxes.
4. Purchase “fox off” sprays and scent based deterrence sprays. 

Lastly, try we urge Sydney Boys High to try co-existing with these animals. Foxes have lived in Australia for almost 200 years. As long as European settlers.Native Animals are learning to adapt to their presence and we should too (see the work of Wallach and Wooster from the Centre for Compassionate Conservation). They are not going away. We need to learn to live with them in more compassionate ways.


Sydney Fox and Dingo Rescue currently provide day-to-day care for 50-75 animals, some are permanent residents, others are waiting to be adopted or undergoing medical care. We are the only dedicated Fox Rescue centre in Australia and one of the only Dingo Rescues. We are a volunteer run, registered charity and a foster care network.

For 7 years we have provided a safe haven to animals that had no-where else to turn. We have helped save the lives of over a 100 foxes, 120 dingoes, 180 cats, 50 rabbits and many other animals. We’ve helped hundreds of families find the perfect animal companion and hundreds of animals recover, heal and learn to love again.
We’ve educated people young and old about animals and the environment and we’ve helped be a voice for animals who didn’t have one of their own. Education and advocacy are key to our program.

Over the years we have worked with major organisations across Australia to help animals in need and conservation research including WIRES, RSPCA, DEWLP, AWL, The Centre for Compassionate Conservation, The Australian National University and the University of Sydney.

Please note fox permits are no longer being issued to private owners (after 2015) and foxes can only legally be housed/rehomed to commercial organisations such as wildlife parks and zoos. Read more:


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