Feral Animals

Foreign pests threaten our native animals, birds and plants. Willoughby Council is working on behalf of the community to protect the natural environment by removing feral animals from the bushland.


Foxes are twice as common in urban areas than in agricultural zones. Studies show that in areas where fox baiting has been carried out, native animals recover and return to their now-safe natural habitats.

Willoughby City Council is a partner with twelve other Councils, Taronga Zoo and the National Parks and Wildlife Service in a fox-baiting program. This program has been successful in reducing fox numbers in Willoughby, and Council is optimistic that native animal populations will grow. Long-nosed bandicoots are already returning to fox-free areas.

Council has a permit from the Rural Lands Protection Board which has strict guidelines for baiting.

Fox poison is only placed when there is clear evidence that a fox is living in the area. To check the presence of foxes, clean bait (not poisoned) is buried deep beneath a circle of sand. If fox paw prints are found on the sand, then a poisoned bait is buried.

The approved poison used is Foxoff® ‘1080’ Fox Bait. It is a canine-specific poison which means that Australian wildlife is less susceptible but domestic dogs are easily affected. This is why dogs are not allowed in bush reserves during the six-week baiting period.

To report a fox sighting please use Feral Scan.

Feral Cats

Feral cats prey on wildlife, killing birds and small native animals. They are a nuisance to pet owners as they can harass domestic cats and dogs, and they also cause nuisance by marking their territory around homes and gardens.

Council can set traps for suspected feral cats in bushland reserves by using sardines in a cage. Council never attempts to poison cats however pet cats should never be allowed to enter a reserve.

If a pet cat is caught in a trap, it is then taken to a local vet to check for a microchip. If the cat is microchipped then the cat’s owners are called to pick it up. If the cat was caught in a Wildlife Protection Area a fine will be issued to the owner. 

Residents can help by keeping their cats away from strays and feral cats to help stop unwanted breeding and prevent the spread of disease. Never feed a stray cat unless you intend to care for it as a pet. Stray cats form a direct link between domestic and feral cats.


Rabbits are a problem in urban environments and reserves. In backyards they eat vegetables, dig holes and leave behind large amounts of faeces. In bushland they damage native vegetation and prevent regeneration by eating seedlings.

Willoughby is part of a regional rabbit management plan to control rabbits in bushland areas. The best methods to achieve this are still being discussed.