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The Fox

Image of red foxProblems with Foxes

The number of fox complaints received by the Council is rising. Most complaints relate to nuisance from screaming or barking, scattering of refuse, leaving food debris and digging, especially during the spring breeding season. Fox screams can be alarming but they are only a method of communication. Generally, foxes are nervous and take every opportunity to avoid humans, however, they are adapting to urban life and some are less afraid. It is unlikely that a healthy fox would attack a human unless cornered and an attempt was made to contain it, however, they should not be approached as they are wild animals.

Foxes eat fruit, worms, insects, small mammals and scavenged food. They can carry a number of diseases such as mange and parasitic worms, and it is possible for humans to contract these conditions but it is not known whether foxes pass them on. It is recommended that fox faeces are removed from gardens, especially where children play, to avoid any risk. Foxes are generally nervous around cats.

Solving a Fox Problem

First, ensure that a fox is the culprit - cats, dogs and squirrels can scavenge dustbins and refuse sacks, and damage to lawns is often caused by birds. To prevent foxes attacking small pets (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs and poultry) ensure they are housed in secure hutches and coops.

Trapping and killing may not solve a problem as foxes from surrounding areas will quickly move into vacant territories to replace any animal that has been killed. Foxes tend to be self-regulating and are limited by the availability of food and territory.

Foxes can be persuaded to move from your garden and vacated earths can be blocked up (but take care in the Spring not to seal cubs in the earth). To reduce visits to your garden remove or protect whatever is attracting foxes - bird food, domestic refuse, fertilisers etc. Try to block access routes, but fencing off an entire garden may not work as it would need to be at least 2 metres with no gaps in or underneath it. Foxes can jump high fences. You may find a fox problem rectifies itself over time or when a litter of cubs disperses towards the end of summer.

A number of non-toxic products are available from hardware shops and garden centres that produce unpleasant smells and deter or confuse the fox into thinking another animal is within its territory and if this imaginary animal can't be found the fox will normally leave the area.

It is very unusual for a fox to enter a house unless it is a tame one or extremely hungry and looking to scavenge pet food etc. left around. Foxes will generally not allow humans within 15-20 feet and domestic cats will almost always see off a fox if they come face-to-face.

Pest Control

If you are concerned about foxes in your area, you should contact a professional pest control company to manage them. You can find suitable local companies online, in the Yellow Pages or visit |The Fox Project website (which provides useful deterrent information).

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