Love them or hate them, foxes arouse a range of reactions among residents especially around this time of year which is when their mating season falls.
The three areas of concern are digging, fouling and noise. Digging may be to create a route to and from their den, while fouling is a means of marking their territory. During the autumn their screams can be disturbing – especially in the middle of the night; this is a means of communication and is particularly apparent from December to January, the mating season.
Fox populations are self-regulating and are not on the increase as is popularly supposed. Lost adults will be replaced by cubs. There is no such thing as vacant territory, so when a fox is removed another with replace it.
It is also worth remembering that foxes are protected by a series of laws and are not classed as vermin. Mortality rates are high and life expectancy is 2-4 years in urban areas. 70-80% of cubs die before breeding.
So how do we deal with the problem in our back gardens? Local councils have learnt that control is ineffective and can be expensive and time-consuming. Residents may find deterrents are the best option:
- Make your garden unattractive by not leaving food out.
- Put food waste bins out on the morning of collection. Epsom and Ewell Borough Council are aware that the current food waste bins are not fox proof and are investigating other product designs.
- Put mesh under sheds and outhouses.
- Remove dense vegetation and overgrown areas.
- Use a proprietary animal repellent (non-approved products are forbidden by law).
Further information can be obtained from The Fox Deterrence Helpline on 01892 826222 or by visiting www.foxproject.org.uk/deterrence.