For years now, the Urban Fox has been a source of constant discussion. Some love it to bits, think is a blessing to see them in the garden and streets and part of living in the towns and cities. Others loath them with a passion and want them culled without mercy.
Lately, there has been a constant flow of calls regarding fox problems in urban areas, and currently we are dealing with several problems in Reading and Basingstoke, where groups of neighbours have clubbed together to rid their urban fox problems.
So what are the issues?
Firstly, one must remember the Urban Foxes are totally wild. They are an apex predator and will kill anything that is an easy meal, including guinea pigs, pet rabbits, chickens and even elderly cats. They will defend a territory against all comers – including dogs and even humans (usually children).
Their natural food is carrion, worms and insects, as well and catching wildlife, so scrounging and scavenging is second nature to them, hence bin bags and dustbins are easy for them to raid.
They are cunning and very intelligent, and soon work things out – particularly if food is on offer. For instance, I had a client who “trained” a fox to come to the patio door and beg for food – this turned into a nightmare when one day the door was open and the fox came into the house and scared the grand children…unfortunately this could only ever end one way and the fox was dispatched that day.
So if you have an Urban Fox problem, what do you do about it? I get lots of calls asking how it can be resolved so here is a bit of advice:
Firstly, try and discourage them from coming onto your property. This can be done by sorting out your fences and making them fox proof – exclusion, whilst not the answer really, will at least stop them coming into your garden. Also, they do not like human hair, so get a few old pairs of tights and pop to the local barber for a load of hair to fill them with. Once done, hang them around the perimeter of your property. They will need to the renewed regularly.
If they still persist, speak to all your neighbours and find out if they also are having issues. It is important that you gain complete agreement from all neighbours to cull. Unless all agree, this could just become and expensive waste of time.
Once agreement is gained, it is important that all share the costs – if they all agree there is a problem, it is only fair that they all contribute to the costs of removing the problem.
The actual methods used to remove urban foxes will vary according to the situation, but in most cases trapping is the most appropriate method. When trapping, the fox must be culled humanly on site as it is illegal to move them alive or relocate. The traps used and either cage traps, where the fox enters the trap and trip a treadle when trying to reach food, or a live capture snare, which is powered with springs, throwing a non lethal noose over the foxes neck once a trigger is pulled by grabbing the bait.
Both methods are very effective and in some cases will catch on the first night. Traps are checked daily either by the client or by us, and should a fox be caught, we will get there very quickly to dispatch them.
This may all sound a bit clinical, but when there is a problem with a fox, it is best to sort it out straight away, especially if they are coming too close to the house and are becoming too bold..we all remember the horrific stories in London last year with a fox in the kids bedroom.