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There are many requests received from concerned urban dwellers regarding the effect resident foxes are having on their lives. This normally boils down to two issues;-
The threat posed by foxes to pet chickens.
Many people have half a dozen chickens in their back yard often as pets or for a supply of eggs/meat. No one likes to see their pets cooped up in a tiny run 24 hours a day so the tendency is to release them during the day to have the run of the garden. Unfortunately foxes are not strictly nocturnal and will hunt during the day so the unpleasant after effects of a fox visit is regularly seen. Unfortunately the fox will frequently kill all the birds at one time often making off with just one.
Foxes digging and fouling a treasured Garden.
Invertebrates (worms, etc) make up 15-20% of an urban foxes diet and that requires grass to be dug up to get to the worms. This can have a serious effect on a bowling green and cricket pitch as well as a carefully tended lawn. In addition to this there are the scats and pungent scent marking left behind by the foxes.
Foxes Causing Noise Pollution.
Autumn and winter are the main dispersal (where the young foxes are ejected from the family group) and breeding season occurs. Foxes may be heard screaming and barking thus disturbing sleep patterns and prompting dogs to bark. Fights and vocalisations are at their highest.
How do you Deter Foxes?
There are many chemical and ultrasonic devices available but generally these are ineffective. Chemical compounds (including male urine) work in the short term but have to be replenished regularly after rain and the foxes do learn to ignore them over time. Ultrasonic devices are quickly ignored. There is a water sprinkler based deterrent that is activated by a PIR switch and sprays the vicinity. It is effective but the fox learns to circumvent the reach of the spray and stays outside.
Electric Fencing as a deterrent.
The availability of electric fencing has transformed free-range poultry keeping. It is arguable that without it, the keeping of extensive, free-range commercial poultry flocks would never have happened. Electric Fencing has been proven to be the most effective long term solution to excluding foxes. There have been numerous trials and anecdotal information that foxes are successfully excluded from an area without any deleterious effect on the fox or any other mammal that touches the fence.
Electric Fencing is split into two methods;-
- 1/. Where the property is enclosed by a wall that the fox is jumping over then it is feasible to run hot wires along the top of the wall and so exclude the whole property. Frequently this is not possible due to issues with a neighbour.
- 2/. A poultry net provides you with a run that is 95% secure and easily portable so that new areas of the lawn may be made accessible to the hens. It may be strung in any shape desired and is simple to erect and remove.