Pests, animal nuisance and welfare
Fox related issues
We are currently receiving an increasing number of complaints regarding foxes. This page provides guidance and support to residents in relation to fox-related nuisance.
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a native species to the UK. They are generally about 40cm tall, and about a metre in length, weighing around 5-8kg. Traditionally they are rural predators, however increasing urbanisation and cultivation of their natural habitats has led them to adapt to life in urban environments, where scavenging for food is often plentiful, and less taxing than hunting live prey.
The national fox population is believed to be around one fox for every 150 people in the UK. Local Authorities such as London Boroughs are not responsible for urban foxes. Evidence has shown that urban fox culls are unsuccessful, as the populations are self-regulating, and when one fox is removed, another simply takes over the former's territory. Culls of animals are regulated and limited by law, and wholesale genocide of the fox population is not a viable, proportionate or acceptable course of action
It should be noted that foxes are incredibly agile, being excellent climbers, and are able to squeeze through gaps that are as little as 10-12cm. Therefore, creating a 'fox-proof' area is virtually impossible out in the open - foxes will easily scale fences and boundary walls and can get through very small gaps in or under them. They can defeat most common garden or domestic materials, such as chicken wire mesh. As such, attempting to deny foxes access to your garden or roof is futile - a far better strategy is to reduce the reason for them to visit in the first place. You can do this through a variety of methods:
- Securing your Food Waste: As foxes are omnivores, they can survive remarkably well by supplementing live prey with food waste. Whilst often considered as a pest, foxes play a part in the suppression of other pests, such as rats. Whilst a typical rural fox diet is 95% meat, urban fox diets are typically 50% meat, and they will supplement this with leftovers disposed of by humans. This includes meat and processed foods as well as fruit and vegetable waste. It is therefore important that all food waste is secured to prevent an opportunistic fox from rifling through your bins and leaving a mess. Hillingdon Council provides free secure food waste bins to domestic properties that are highly resistant to fox attack, and also help reduce your impact on the environment through recycling. Sign up for a food waste bin here:
Food containers put in recycling bags should also be washed, to remove traces of food and scent, which can attract hungry foxes. Where possible, store waste in a closed container with a tight fitting or locking lid.
By securing your food waste, foxes will have to look elsewhere for food. This will reduce the number of visits you will receive from hungry foxes.
- Use a suitable fox repellent or deterrent:These must be an approved product - the use of unapproved chemicals or substances (such as creosote, diesel oil, banned pesticides etc) for pest control is an offence under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. Your local garden centre or DIY store should be able to advise you on which products are available. Any chemical used as a repellent is covered under the Control of Pesticides Regulation 1986.
One such approved repellent is 'Scoot', which can be purchased from most DIY or garden centres.
If you cannot resolve your fox problem, then you should call a reputable pest control company. Hillingdon Council has a contract for pest control with John O'Connor (Grounds Maintenance) Ltd - Please see the form to report a pest control issue on the following webpage: Pest control service - Hillingdon Council
The control of foxes is a specific and highly specialised area and is not particularly effective. It is not possible to 'relocate' foxes to 'the countryside' as they are adapted to urban areas, and do not have any one 'normal' or 'traditional' territory. Foxes have adapted to live in conditions ranging from the Arctic to deserts, and as such do not have any one area that they can be successfully 'returned' to.
It is illegal to use the following methods to control foxes on your property:
- Self-locking snares
- Bows and crossbows
- Live birds or animals, as bait or decoys
- Gassing or poisoning
- In urban areas firearms should not be used to control foxes for public safety reasons