Feral fox work­shop

Avon Valley Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Lynn Gri­er­son

FOX whis­perer Ed­die Juras will host a pub­lic work­shop on fox be­hav­iour and con­trol in the run- up to a Shire of Mun­dar­ing trial to re­duce the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of feral foxes in the Hills.

He said the hunt­ing habits of wild foxes had led to a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in na­tive birds, small mam­mals, such as bandi­coots, and rep­tiles.

Foxes are an agri­cul­tural pest and a threat to na­tive an­i­mals across Aus­tralia.

Mr Juras will share his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of fox be­hav­iour and demon­strate how to trap foxes hu­manely and in ac­cor­dance with the An­i­mal Wel­fare Act 2002 through the use of soft­jaw traps, as op­posed to steel traps which may cause an an­i­mal to suf­fer.

He said he can smell foxes be­fore he sees them.

“I had my first pet fox when I was five years old. I like them, but they are a de­clared pest,” he said.

“Feral foxes will eat any­thing; any small mam­mal is at risk, as well as tur­tles, poul­try and peo­ple’s pet cats and birds.

“At this time of the year they make their dens near water­ways be­cause they know ducks build their nests on the ground not far from the wa­ter’s edge; foxes are pretty smart lit­tle crit­ters.

“A sin­gle male fox will mate with three or four fe­males and each fe­male may have half- adozen cubs; that’s a big fam­ily to feed.

“The fe­male stays in the lair with her blind cubs for four weeks while the male hunts for food, which he leaves at the top of the den be­cause he is not al­lowed to en­ter.”

Mr Juras ( 61) runs his busi­ness Feral In­va­sive Species Erad­i­ca­tion Man­age­ment from his Canning Vale home and has held a li­cence to catch feral an­i­mals for more than 40 years.

He said feral cats and pigs were an­other big prob­lem in the Hills. “I ‘ free feed’ the an­i­mals for about two weeks to at­tract them to sites and I re­lease any­thing from the traps that shouldn’t be caught. I never use poi­son,” he said.

Over the years he has worked ex­ten­sively with Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity stu­dents re­search­ing the be­hav­iour of foxes.

Mr Juras works mostly for lo­cal coun­cils, land­care agen­cies and the Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice at the Depart­ment of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions.

“Foxes are not a con­fronta­tional an­i­mal and I like to spend time with them, stroking and talk­ing to them be­fore I shoot them,” he said.

“We’ve just got to do it and I think more of the an­i­mals I’m sav­ing than the an­i­mals I’m killing. A fox can kill thou­sands of an­i­mals a year.”

The Shire will seek in­ter­est from res­i­dents to par­tic­i­pate in a trial of fox trap­ping on pri­vate land and is plan­ning a se­ries of free environmental work­shops for res­i­dents.

The ve­hi­cle regis­tra­tion Fox­man was a gift from his chil­dren.

Ed­die Juras with a hand­ful of one- hour- old fox cubs caught in a trap.

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