By SF Gate Contributor Updated February 12, 2021
If you live in a rural area, near foothills or woodlands, you might occasionally spot a fox on your property. These small, wild canines are normally shy and reluctant to approach human habitats, but occasionally become bold, especially if they are hungry. Both red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) foxes are found across North America, but the red fox is more common in the west, and likelier to approach homes.
Dangers of Foxes
Foxes are very rarely dangerous to humans, according to the Humane Society of the United States. They do not often contract rabies, and normally avoid contact with people. Though they are often accused of tipping over trashcans, attacking pets or eating livestock, domestic dogs are likelier to carry out all of these activities than foxes. The typical red fox weighs 15 to 20 pounds, and is not a formidable threat to a medium-to-large dog. Foxes occasionally will attack rabbits, rodents, small dogs or cats that are outdoors. They also like berries and will sometimes scavenge in a home orchard.
Build A Barrier
If you’ve seen a fox near your property, and want to keep it away, a barrier is quite effective in keeping these canines off your land. Run a chain link fence that’s at least six feet high around the area you want to protect, and be sure to bury hardware cloth or chicken wire at least 12 inches into the ground under the fence, as foxes are diggers. An electrified fence is an even more powerful deterrent. If foxes are building dens under your porch use chicken wire or chain link to block access to that area after you’ve made sure there are no animals present.
Use A Repellent
According to Jeff Schalau at the University of Arizona Extension, many repellents work because they taste or small bad to unwelcome visitors. Miller Hot Sauce, a repellent made with 2.5% Capsaicin extract concentrate, is effective on ornamentals, bushes, vines and fruit trees. Make your own fox repellent by adding four tablespoons of hot sauce to a quart of water. A solution of soapy water sprayed on plants is sometimes effective. Though they may not be as effective, you can try deterrent sprays made for domestic dogs. Items with a strong human scent, such as a sweaty tee shirt, can also discourage foxes from lingering on your property.
If foxes are a persistent problem, consider installing a motion-activated light, sprinkler or noisemaker. Banging on a pot or pan, shouting or playing a radio are all good methods for discouraging an occasional fox visitor. The Wildlife Society says that fladry flags tied to the top of the fence that repel foxes by fluttering, may be effective.
Like all animals, foxes are attracted to food sources. Making sure they don’t have access to easy meals discourages them from returning. Don’t keep small animals penned outside, if possible. If you have chickens, rabbits or other small livestock outdoors, secure their cages with a lock, and fortify any openings or weaknesses in the structure. Cats should be kept inside at night. Don’t leave pet food outside where a fox can find it, and keep trash cans securely closed. Keep the area underneath bird feeders free from spilled seed, and if you have a compost bin, keep it in an enclosure. [external_footer]