The fox is a remarkably adaptable and successful animal found where food is plentiful. It is successful in most environments because it is willing to eat almost anything and has become particularly adept at surviving alongside man on agricultural ground and urban areas. The mating season is December to February when the vixen can be heard at night uttering its eerie, high pitched scream. Four or five cubs are born in the spring and the female fox stays with them in the 'earth' for two weeks, fed by the dog fox. They remain with their mother until autumn when they disperse to find territories and mates of their own. The life expectancy of the fox is short; 12 - 18 months in urban areas, (58% are killed on the roads) and rarely beyond 3 years in rural areas.
Rural foxes are either tolerated because they help keep other pest species down such as rabbits or they are despised as they are renowned to kill for fun only taking one animal to feed upon. If a fox gains entry to a chicken shed or free range chicken area the damage they cause is phenomenal, often leaving just carcasses and feathers for the farmer or landowner to dispose of. Foxes also pose a threat to young lambs, seizing the opportunity of an easy meal. Urban foxes can also become quite troublesome, taking poultry and shredding bin bags looking for an easy meal. Both urban and rural foxes are prone to Mange which is a skin disease of mammals caused by parasitic mites and occasionally communicable to humans. It is characterised by severe itching, hair loss, and the formation of scabs and lesions, this disease is also spread to dogs.
Why control foxes?
As stated above foxes can cause untold amounts of damage in certain locations and this is why the control of these animals is needed. Urban foxes that have chosen to have a litter beneath a garden shed will often move on without the need for intervention, they can also provide some entertainment for onlookers with the antics they get up to.
Traditionally rural foxes have been hunted at night using a high-powered lamp scanning the fields allowing the hunter to locate, identify and dispatch their quarry. Unfortunately over the years the adaptable fox has started to realise that someone in the field with a big lamp is a threat to their safety causing them to flee. The result of this has meant the hunter has had to re-think tactics to become successful. Urban foxes are not so wary of man as they live in close proximity and can be dealt with by means of a live cage trap or with a well placed bullet from an elevated position ensuring a quick humane kill. My preferred method of controlling foxes is with a high powered rifle fitted with a state of the art thermal rifle scope. By utilising this technology the animal remains unaware of the presence of a threat; this allows accurate shot placement ensuring the animal does not suffer. As a rural pest control specialist based in Herefordshire I am often asked to provide fox control around farms and free range chicken farms. As a result of this a great deal of thought has gone into firearms selection to prevent stress to birds and prevent unwanted attention from the general public. For this reason one of my main rifles for choice is a fully suppressed subsonic rifle which generates little more noise than an air rifle.