Urban foxes

Urban foxes

Information on fox control in Bristol, what you can do to prevent foxes coming onto your property and details on specific fox situations.

Fox control in Bristol

There is no fox control in Bristol because controlling urban foxes is difficult, expensive and never successful. 

Urban foxes are difficult to control because shooting and snaring is not acceptable in urban areas and live trapping is very ineffective. Also when urban foxes are killed or removed then urban foxes just increase their breeding numbers.

What you can do to prevent foxes coming onto your property

There are some things you can do to reduce the chances of urban foxes coming onto your property.

What you can do to deter urban foxes

If you have foxes coming into your garden then you can do the following

  • remove any food
  • get rid of where they live
  • use animal repellents as a last resort

Remove any food

The main reason a fox will enter your garden is because it’s looking for food. If you remove the food then it’ll probably move on.

The following can you help do this:

  • keep your food waste in wheelie bins, food bins or closed containers with their lids are firmly closed
  • only put your waste out on the morning of collection
  • don’t leave food out for other animals such as cats, dogs and rabbits
  • be careful where you put food to feed birds, this should always be in approved bird feeders
  • protect all animals and livestock

Get rid of where they live

Another reason for foxes coming into your garden is that it can provide a safe place for them to live. This may be overgrown areas or spaces beneath buildings.

You should consider doing the following:

  • cut back any overgrown or neglected areas
  • block any spaces under buildings with heavy duty mesh (weld mesh) with holes measuring 2 inches (50mm)

If you’re blocking any spaces make sure that it’s securely fixed to any building and buried to a depth of 12 inches (300mm) into the soil to stop the fox burrowing under the mesh.

Use animal repellents as a last resort

You can try some animal repellents from garden centres, hardware stores and DIY stores to discourage foxes using your garden. However none are fool proof.

You should only use approved repellents and make sure you use them in line with the manufactures recommendations.

Specific urban fox situations

The information below is guidance and advice to specific situations and queries.

Capturing urban foxes and returning them wild

We can’t capture and release urban foxes into the wild beacuse:

  • capturing urban foxes is very difficult
  • urban urban foxes will have difficulty adapting to the countryside and could die, this be will be offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006
  • people will not want urban foxes to be released onto their land

Urban foxes and people

The chance of a fox attacking a person is very low.

However, if you know that urban foxes are in your area, you should consider some simple precautions.

You shouldn’t:

  • leave windows and doors open
  • leave babies in prams unattended
  • approach a fox if it’s cornered as it will bite in self-defence; always give it room to escape

Urban foxes and cats

It’s very rare for a fox to kill a cat.

A survey in north-west Bristol where urban foxes are common showed they killed 0.7% of cats and they were mainly young kittens. This means your cat is far more likely to be run over, stray or die from a variety of other causes.

Cats and urban foxes will usually ignore each other. However, some cats are aggressive animals, and will go for a fox, sometimes to drive it away from their garden or food bowl.

Urban foxes and other pets

It’s unlikely that a fox will kill your pets if you take these precautions:

  • don’t leave your pets in the garden unsecured at night
  • make sure that their hutch or shed is solidly built
  • have a secure means of fastening the hutch or shed, preferably with a lock that cannot be knocked open
  • make sure the hutch wire is strong weld mesh, securely nailed down, and not chicken  wire, which foxes can bite through

If you live in an area where urban foxes come into your garden it’s up to you to take these very simple precautions to look after your pets.

Urban foxes and rabies

Urban foxes don't have rabies.

Britain is currently one of only a few countries without rabies.

Urban foxes and mange

In some cities urban foxes do have mange. However foxes also shed their coats over the year and this may look like they’ve got mange.

Removing dead foxes

If there is a dead fox on your property then go to our report a dead animal page.

Feeding foxes

We don’t recommend the feeding of foxes intentionally or unintentionally.

Foxes and their barking and screaming noises

You can’t stop foxes making their barking and screaming noises as it’s how they communicate.

Their calls are mostly around January and February which is their mating season.

Foxes and your bins

Foxes will go into your bins but this isn’t as common as thought. Cats and dogs also go into bins and foxes have mistakenly blamed for this.

To reduce the risks of foxes going into your bins you should:

  • make sure you don’t put food waste out in plastic sacks
  • use a wheelie bin or caddy and make sure is intact and closed at all times

If you do have to use plastic sacks then put them out on the morning of the collection and not the night before.

Foxes and objects in your garden

Foxes are naturally curious and will play with objects they find. They may even take objects back to their hide with them especially around late spring and early summer for their cubs.

To protect any objects in your garden you shouldn’t leave them out over night.

Foxes and fouling in your garden

Foxes foul in your garden to mark their territory, that’s why it’s left in obvious places such as on top of a compost heap, or on a garden wall.

Although fox fouling is very smelly it has little risk of spreading disease.

Foxes can have many of the same diseases and parasites as dogs, including the roundworm Toxocara Canis. The larvae of this roundworm can cause blindness in children but the chance of catching this from foxes is remote. There are no known cases of children contracting Toxocariasis from foxes.

Foxes digging in your garden

Foxes might dig shallow holes in your lawn when they’re hunting for earthworms and grubs which only come near the surface in wet periods. This sort of damage is seasonal and happens mainly in wet springs and warm wet autumns.

If the damage isn’t too bad you can wait for the weather to dry up and then repair it. If the damage is getting bad then you can use insecticide and vermicides to remove the grubs. This should be a last resort as too many pesticides are bad for the environment.

Foxes and burrows in your garden

If there's a burrow in your garden you can check there isn’t an animal in it by poking it with a suitable stick.

The majority of times there won’t be and you can fill the hole with bricks, or other materials that will be difficult to move, and cover it with soil.

The fox might try and open it again but if you keep filling it in it’ll just give up and go away.

Fox cubs playing in your garden

Fox cubs don’t travel far from their earth so they’ll be living close by. If they’re living a neighbour’s garden then you can ask your neighbours to encourage the cubs to move. If your neighbours don’t want to help then there is nothing you can do except try and block their access to your garden.

If the fox cubs are coming from a patch of dense vegetation (often brambles) in an next door allotment or overgrown area then you can move them by clearing this area.

Foxes living under your shed

Foxes don’t like sheds with draughts underneath them. To encourage the fox to move you should clear the area from around your shed so that it’s exposed and draughty. The foxes will the move on pretty quickly, usually the next night.

Normally the won’t return but if you want to make sure then you can fix weld mesh around the base of the shed covering the gap and dig about 30 centimetres into the soil.

Foxes living under your garage

It’s difficult to remove foxes from under your garage since they’ve burrowed under a concrete floor.

Putting foul smelling chemicals down the holes is currently illegal under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, and often the only way to get them out is to break up the concrete floor of the garage.

This is an extreme course of action since the nuisance value is far less than if they were under the house.

The best thing to do is to leave them alone until the foxes take their cubs away; in most years this happens in June.

When you think the foxes have gone, loosely block the holes with some soil. If the holes are reopened, continue re-blocking the holes each day until nothing disturbs the soil plugs. Then immediately fill the holes with rubble and cement them over to prevent the foxes gaining access again.

In future years look for new holes, and block these in the same way as soon as they appear.

Foxes living under your house

This is a rare but serious problem that must be dealt with immediately.

You should arrange for a pest control company to lift floorboards of your house and drive the foxes out. However, since the foxes probably have access under the whole house, this may well involve lifting floorboards in all ground floor rooms.

Foxes often get under houses through old rusted air vents. If you’ve air vents under your house should keep them well maintained.

It’s against the law to use non-approved products like creosote or diesel oil. These and any other non-approved products can be dangerous to pets and you may be prosecuted for using them.

The products listed below are approved for use to deter foxes:

  • Scoot
  • Catapult
  • Ready to use Stay Off
  • Johnson’s Clear Off
  • B&Q Animal Repellent
  • Curb Garden Pack

All these products contain aluminium ammonia sulphate.

Any chemical used as a repellent is covered under The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 where it states that only approved chemicals may be used.