Introduced to Australia more than 100 years ago purely for sport, the red fox continues to be a favourite target for hunters across the nation.

Story & photos by Alistair McGlashan

The European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced to Australia from England in the mid-1800s for recreational reasons. Fox-hunting was already popular in England and it was hoped that the foxes would take to the Australian bush and give the first settlers something to hunt. Although there were a number of releases, two of the most successful were carried out by a sportsman known as Dr King, who released a male and female about 19 kilometres from Ballarat, Vic, in 1871, while Thomas Cook released several at Point Cook, Vic, at about the same time.
The foxes spread quickly and had reached as far west as Kalgoorlie, WA, by the 1920s. Today, red foxes number in their millions and can be found over about two-thirds of the continent, with their northern limit almost reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria. Some of the highest concentrations are found in western Victoria, the Riverina region of NSW and on the Great Dividing Range. Like so many other introduced species, they have wreaked havoc on Australia’s native fauna, especially birdlife and small marsupials.
Foxes are a great challenge to hunt as they are so crafty. There are a number of techniques for hunters to try, such as stalking, fox whistling, flushing them out with dogs and, the most effective, spotlighting.

This story excerpt is from Issue #49

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2006