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RSPCA Australia acknowledges that, in certain circumstances, it is necessary to manage populations of wild animals in order to reduce adverse impacts on human activities, health and wellbeing or the environment and also to protect the welfare of individual animals. When undertaken, the RSPCA believes management activities must use methods that are humane, target-specific and effective.
Codes of practice and standard operating procedures for the humane control of pest animals in Australia have been developed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries with support from the Australian Government and these are available on the PestSmart website. PestSmart is a database of information on vertebrate invasive animals in Australia and New Zealand managed and maintained by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra and supported by the Australian Government through the Bureau of Rural Sciences.
The codes of practice (COP) provide general information on best practice management for different animal species, control strategies, animal biology and impact and also a summary of the humaneness, efficacy, cost-effectiveness and target specificity of each control method. Standard operating procedures (SOP) describe specific control techniques and their application as well as animal welfare impacts for target and non-target species and strategies to minimise any harmful impacts.
The RSPCA is concerned that some of these methods, such as poisoning with 1080 or leg-hold trapping, involve considerable suffering even when carried out according to best practice. However, while these methods remain in use, it is important that operators are informed about how to apply them in the most humane and effective way.
The ‘humaneness’ of a control method refers to the overall welfare impact that the method has on an individual animal. A relatively more humane method will have less impact than a relatively less humane method. A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods has been developed under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS). This model has been used by an independent expert panel to assess the humaneness of a variety of methods used to control invasive animal species in Australia and these assessments are also available on the PestSmart website.
Links to the COP, SOPs and humaneness assessments relating to the management of foxes can be found below:
Code of practice
Model code of practice for the humane control of foxes
Standard operating procedures
FOX001: Ground baiting of foxes with sodium fluoroacetate (1080)
FOX002: Aerial baiting of foxes with 1080
FOX003: Ground shooting of foxes
FOX004: Fumigation of fox dens using carbon monoxide
FOX005: Trapping of foxes using padded-jaw traps
FOX006: Trapping of foxes using cage traps
GEN003: Trapping using soft net traps
Humaneness assessments for fox control methods:
 Sharp, T., & Saunders, G. (2008). A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
 Sharp, T., & Saunders, G. (2011). A model for assessing the relative humaneness of pest animal control methods (Second edition). Canberra, ACT: Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry.