FOX whisperer Eddie Juras is hosting 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 including bandicoots, and reptiles in the eastern suburbs.
Foxes are an agricultural pest and a threat to native animals across Australia.
He 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 soft-jaw traps as opposed to steel traps, which may cause an animal to suffer.
A more appropriate name for the fox predator would likely be the fox whistler, for when he whistles they come to him like lambs to the slaughter.
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 a dozen 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.
“I’ve also caught feral goats and not long ago, about halfway down to Mandurah, there was a problem with feral deer,” he said.
The feral animals he catches are unaware of their fate and an animal may be sleeping when he returns to a trap.
Over a 10-day trapping period, he recently caught about 50 feral goats and pigs in Wungong near Armadale.
“If people want what I shoot I don’t sell it. They are welcome to have the meat,” he said.
Mr Juras works mostly for local councils, land care agencies and the Department of Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
A gold mine in Boddington made use of his services to take care of a feral pig problem in the area.
“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.
“Animals don’t understand what a shot is and it’s a humane way to kill them, they don’t suffer. People think animals can think like people, but all an animal is interested in is survival,” 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,” he said.
“A fox can kill thousands of animals a year.”
Mundaring Shire chief executive officer Jonathan Throssell said it was important for residents to have access to information about how to deal with foxes.
“We do not want people using baits which could poison pets or native animals,” he said.
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 next event will be Birds in Your Garden on November 4.
What: Fox behaviour and control workshop
When: 9.30am-noon, September 30
Where: Mundaring Shire Civic Area
Register: Call 9290 6651 or email firstname.lastname@example.org