Foxes

Fox populations are relatively stable and self regulating according to the availability of habitat and food. Foxes are classed as wild animals, not pests, and the Council has no statutory powers or legal rights to eradicate foxes on private or other land.

Foxes can be a nuisance at times, particularly during the mating season but the problem of fox noise is seasonal and lasts for just a couple of weeks.

Foxes will sometimes tear rubbish sacks apart and leave the contents strewn all over the street. However, other animals, including pet cats and dogs, can be responsible for doing that too.

Frequently asked questions about foxes:

Are foxes a risk to humans and pets?

In the past few years there have been some reports of attacks on children. Thankfully these are extremely rare. Statistically, the risk that foxes pose is very small indeed. The risk from dangerous dogs is far greater.

Foxes pose little danger to cats but, like any other dog, foxes will chase cats. Foxes will scavenge the remains of dead cats, but actual evidence of them killing cats is extremely rare.

Small pets, like rabbits and guinea pigs can be taken by foxes. They need to be securely housed to ensure foxes cannot get access to them. Most wire pens are not robust enough to deter a determined fox. Foxes also eat rats and other rodents which helps to keep those pests down.

 

What can members of the public do about foxes?

As well as denying foxes a source of food or shelter, there are a few other steps you can take to deal with a fox that is living in your garden. You can use an appropriate animal repellent to discourage the animal (for example a non toxic chemical such as Scoot, Stay Off, Get Off My Garden or Wash Off and Get Off) Always read the manufacturer's label and follow their instructions before using. 

Success with repellents requires persistence. Foxes will not vacate their territory easily. Problems with scent marking and faeces may get worse before they get better. Foxes will increase their scent marking if their territory is threatened. Successfully deterring foxes will require constant re-application of the repellent, often for weeks, before the foxes give up and move on.

Do not be tempted to try to poison foxes as such action puts other animals (pets, wild birds etc) and humans at risk. People who do use poisons illegally can face substantial fines and / or a prison sentence. If you need practical help with foxes you should contact a pest control professional for advice. The British Pest Control Association website is useful for finding a suitable pest control professional. Remember, only trained pest control professionals can kill or trap foxes.

Foxes do not, generally, attack humans. However, if you are concerned about leaving young children or babies sleeping or playing inside a room, because foxes have been seen in your area or the street, there are a few common-sense precautions you might take to allay any concerns you have:

  • Do not leave ground-floor windows or those immediately above a flat roof wide open. Instead, leave the windows open just two to three inches.

  • Do not leave French windows or external ground-floor doors open, especially after dark.

  • Do not leave pet-food out in the garden or on a balcony.

  • If foxes are continually disturbing your sleep it is possible to deter them by switching on an external light, or shining a powerful torch beam at them.

  • Never be tempted to use rags soaked in creosote or petrol. This is potentially dangerous and illegal.

  • Clear overgrown gardens (which could provide resting areas for foxes) and make sure there is no food available on compost heaps.

  • Don't use fertilisers containing blood, fish and bone meal as they will attract foxes.

  • If you have foxes living in your garden you can use an animal repellent as mentioned above.

  • If you have a den in your garden or on your land you can block the entrance, but you should only ever use soft soil whilst there are cubs around. You must be sure the den is completely vacated before blocking it with rubble or cement.

  • Consider extending your fence (above and below ground) - before you do, please consult the Planning Team to ensure any changes are approved.

You should not trap foxes inside their den. It is cruel and illegal to do so.

 

How are foxes controlled?

The Council will offer practical advice and information about foxes and how we can make our homes and the streets less attractive to them.

It is the abundance of food and shelter and almost a complete absence of predators that has enabled the fox to thrive in urban areas. The answer to controlling them comes down to just two practical measures, denying them a regular source of food and shelter. Therefore, if we, as a community, reduce the availability of food and places to shelter, fox numbers will reduce, as will the number of rats, feral pigeons and seagulls.

Some people think the Council should start culling foxes, but such a measure is not only extremely expensive, potentially dangerous and very unlikely to succeed. There was a nationwide program to cull foxes that ran for more than 30 years, but fox numbers did not noticeably decline.

Newly-vacated territory is quickly occupied by other foxes, often within days. Moreover, killing simply brings about less competition for food and territory and the mortality rate for the remaining foxes will decline.

Some pest control companies will kill foxes. If you decide to employ someone to kill a fox on your property you need to understand that you will be responsible for the costs of killing and disposing of the animal (which can be considerable). And the territory of a culled fox will be quickly re-occupied by another fox.

 

Does the council collect dead foxes?

We remove dead animals from the public highway, roads and foot paths, but not privately owned land. You can report a dead fox online or contact the Council on 01932 838383.

You can report a dead fox online.