Pest animals

A feral animal is one that has escaped from a domestic or captive status and is living more or less as wild, or one that is descended from such animals. Some feral animals have been declared as pest species under NSW legislation.

Pest animals present a significant threat to our biosecurity, economy, environment, and community well-being.

Land managers and the community experience impacts of pest animals such as , harm to pets or livestock and wildlife, increased grazing pressures, asset damage and competition with native wildlife.

Under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 framework public, private and Aboriginal Land Managers have a shared responsibility to prevent, eliminate and minimise biosecurity risks, including pest animals.

The Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023 (Greater Sydney Local Land Services) identifies priority pest species for the region and outlines general control and management actions that landowners can undertake to meet their biosecurity duty. The plan identifies the following priority pest species:

  • wild dog
  • feral pig
  • red fox
  • wild rabbit
  • wild deer (all species)
  • cats
  • feral goats
  • Indian myna
  • common carp

For further information, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) provides details about pest and nuisance animals. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) provides advice about common problems when living with native animals.

The presence of pest animals should be reported to the Greater Sydney Local Land Service, for information and advice on control methods.

Sightings of unusual animals should be reported to NSW DPI, or alternatively phone 1800 680 244.

Pest animal control

Given the impact pest animals have, it is important that everyone plays their part in reducing the risks.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 all tiers of government, industry and the community need to work together to manage pest animals.

This means that all land managers have a responsibility to:

  • know the priority pests in their area
  • know what actions should be taken to manage these pests
  • take effective action to manage local priority pests.

All landowners including Council have a duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to manage pest animals on land they own or manage.

As such, Council currently undertakes a fox control pest animal control programs across its many environmentally sensitive reserves to reduce the impact on local wildlife. Council is also partnering with Greater Sydney Local Land Services to manage rabbits in key locations across the Central Coast.

Not all animals that cause economic and environmental damage or nuisance are declared pests. While the control of species such as peafowl may be an objective of land managers, there is no legislative requirement for landholders to control such species.

For any enquiries relating to fox control or Council's vertebrate pest management animal control programs, or to assist Council in controlling this pest species by reporting any sightings, please call 02 4306 7900 or email ask@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Council's fox control program

Predation by foxes is a threat to many native animals and is listed as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The red fox is also identified as a priority pest species in the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023.

Council’s fox control program aims to reduce fox numbers in the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) and other priority natural reserves.

The red fox is an opportunistic predator and scavenger with few natural predators in Australia. Evidence identifies red foxes as a primary cause in the decline and extinction of many small and medium-sized rodent and marsupial species in Australia. Foxes also prey on many bird and reptile species.

Central Coast Council commenced a fox control program in 2016 in Council's natural reserves. The program aims to reduce the impacts of fox predation on native animals, including threatened species. The program integrates various control methods including 1080 baiting, trapping, shooting and den fumigation.

Council is undertaking targeted fox control between September 2022 and February 2023 in the following locations:

  • Rumbalara Reserve (Gosford-Springfield)
  • Katandra Reserve (Holgate)
  • Ferntree Close Reserve (Mt Elliot-Wyoming-Lisarow)
  • Barwon Road Reserve (Wyoming)
  • Kincumba Mountain Regional Reserve (Kincumber-Green Point)
  • The Scenic Road Bushland Reserve (Kincumber)
  • Saratoga Conservation Area (Saratoga)
  • The Entrance North including Karagi Point, Magenta and Soldiers Beach (Norah Head) (select Council managed land only)

A map showing the location of these reserves can be viewed here.

Pet owners are encouraged to keep their pets safe and prevent them from entering reserves. Dogs are prohibited in these reserves and, if found, enforcement action may ensue.

Council will not be undertaking 1080 fox baiting in natural reserves between September 2022 and February 2023 while a review is undertaken.

When baiting, “Foxoff” 1080 poison baits are buried where foxes are known to be active. Burying the baits minimises the potential that they will be taken by non-target animals. The baits will remain in place at all times, with warning signs being installed at formal accesses to the reserves.

Many Australian native animals are tolerant of 1080 because over 30 Australian native plants produce sodium fluoroacetate; a synthetic version of which is used in 1080 baits.

The concentrations of 1080 used for vertebrate pest management are extremely low and not lethal to humans.

1080 breaks down in water, soil and carcasses over time and has limited impact on the environment.

WARNING: 1080 is lethal to cats and dogs.

All domestic animals must be kept out of 1080 fox baiting areas. Owners are discouraged from allowing domestic pets from entering all of Council's natural area reserves

1080 fox baiting is undertaken in accordance with permit conditions that have been provided by the NSW Government. Council has notified local vets and animal hospitals about the baiting program.

You can play your part in managing foxes by reporting impacts and sightings to FoxScan.

For any enquiries relating to Council's fox control programs, or to assist Council in controlling this pest species by reporting any sightings, please call 02 4306 7900 or email ask@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au.

Regional Rabbit Control Program

The European rabbit is identified as a priority pest species in the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Pest Animal Plan 2018-2023.

Council is participating in a feral rabbit reduction program led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services across the Central Coast. The program will begin on 17 March 2022.

The program involves the release of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1-K5), also known as Calicivirus, which is designed to complement ongoing control efforts on private and public land.

Council undertakes targeted control actions to manage rabbits, such as baiting, shooting, fumigation or destruction of warrens, on Council owned and managed land on an as needs basis when impact to infrastructure or threat to native flora necessitates.

You can play your part in managing wild rabbits by reporting damage and sightings of feral rabbits to RabbitScan.

Pet rabbit owners

Pet rabbit owners are able to vaccinate their rabbits against the effects of RHDV1-K5 (Calicivirus) at their local vets, at the owner's cost. Pet owners are encouraged to have their rabbits vaccinated at least two weeks prior to the release date and to keep vaccinations up to date as per veterinarian advice.

Rabbit hutches should also be made mosquito-proof and housed away from interactions with wild rabbits, which can spread diseases to domestic pets. Domestic rabbits should not be free roaming and should be contained in a secure enclosure.

For information about RHDV1-K5 (Calicivirus), including further information for domestic rabbit owners visit the PestSmart website.

For further information regarding the program, including ways private landholders can control feral rabbits, visit the Greater Sydney Local Land Services website or phone (02) 4724 2100.

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Last updated : Tue 18 Oct 2022