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Wildlife Damage Management

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox - Photo by Don GettyFox populations across the U.S. have been steadily growing since the fur trade declined in the earlier part of the last century. Red foxes are about three feet long from nose to tail and the average adult weighs about 10 pounds. Most are reddish to orange in color with black lower legs, light colored bellies, and a bushy tail with a characteristic white tip. The same species may also be silver or almost black in color, but always the white tail tip will give away the identification of this shy woodland canid.

In the wild, foxes eat rodents, insects, berries and seeds and they live near open fields where these food items can be found. If you see a fox on your property, you may want to learn to learn to live with the creature and enjoy the benefits of nature’s pest control. Foxes may prey on small livestock like chickens or small pets like cats if they are unprotected. They may also make a mess of garbage cans that are not adequately secured. Foxes are opportunists and will eat whatever is easiest to acquire. If it is easier to eat the dog food on your porch than it is to go catch a chipmunk, they will eat the dog food every time. If the dog food is difficult to access or too close to human activity, the chipmunk loses.

Foxes seek out dens around early spring when it is time to breed and produce their young for the year. In the wild, a fox would likely use the den of a rabbit or marmot. In the suburbs, she may use the cozy space beneath your deck or the crawl space of your house. As human populations have grown to include what was previously fox habitat, foxes have adapted to take advantage of food and shelter readily available in human neighborhoods.

Foxes are not aggressive and pose no threat to humans unless they are sick. Foxes can carry pathogens that cause mange, distemper, and rabies. These animals are usually very shy and avoid people, so if you see that a fox is being unusually bold or approaching you in any way–this may be a sign that the animal is sick. Other signs of illness may be impaired movement, paralysis, apparent disorientation, or lack of coordination. Contact animal control and notify them if you encounter a fox behaving abnormally.

Damage Control
(from ICWDM.org)
PDF copy
(from NC State Extension)
Trapping in Alabama