HOW TO CONTROL FOXES: The Animal Welfare Act 2006 protects some species of wildlife animals that you catch.
Illegal Fox Control Methods
You must not use any of these options to deter or to get rid of foxes:
- Bows and crossbows
- Explosives (except legal ammunition for a licensed firearm)
- Live birds or animals used as bait or live decoys
- Self-locking snares
Failing to use the control methods set out in this guidance can result in a jail sentence up to 6 months and a fine up to £5,000 (per animal). There are other ways to control pests on your property (e.g. animals or insects that cause harm or create a nuisance).
Causing unnecessary suffering to an animal can mean a jail term along with a fine up to £20,000.
Deterring Foxes from Your Property
There are several practical ways to discourage foxes from coming on to your land or property. Make sure you:
- Avoid leaving food sources by securing all waste food in metal or sturdy bins.
- Use welded metal fencing (not chicken wire) to protect your pets and livestock from foxes.
There are other safe and effective fox control methods to use if the problem persists. But, to stay within the law you must not use methods that:
- Block or destroy fox earths (dens) if a leash of foxes are occupying them.
- Involve gassing, asphyxiating, poisoning, drowning, maiming, stabbing, clubbing, or impaling.
Catching a Fox with Cage Traps and Snares
United Kingdom laws on wildlife and biodiversity allow you to use cage traps and snares to catch foxes. As a rule, try to check cage traps on a daily basis to lessen the chance of a captured fox suffering.
- Use free-running snares that relax after capturing the animal.
- Check fox snares at least once every day.
- Kill any fox that you catch (including grey squirrels and mink) as ‘humanely’ as possible while it is inside the trap or snare.
- Release any other animals unharmed.
- Use spring traps.
- Place fox snares in public spaces or urban areas.
- Place fox traps or snares near to a badger sett or in areas where badgers are present.
Note: Having caught a fox, you should not release or relocate it. Transporting or relocating foxes to an unfamiliar environment would cause stress for the animal.
Shooting Free Foxes
The rules on fox hunting allow you to shoot free foxes. But, to do so, you must be using a suitable firearm and legal ammunition. Public safety laws restrict you from shooting foxes with a firearm in urban areas.
Note: Lamping is an effective way to kill a fox and has revolutionised modern methods of fox control in Britain. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation explains the code of practice on shooting foxes at night.
Using Dogs to Hunt Foxes
Despite being illegal to use dogs to hunt foxes, you can use them to stalk or flush out foxes to a position above ground. But, you must only use this practice to stop the animals causing serious damage to your business or to property.
- Not use a pack of dogs (no more than two hounds).
- Shoot the foxes as soon as they break cover.
- Carry some proof that either you own the land or you have written permission from the landowner.
Using Deterrents or Repellents
The use of repellents and deterrents against foxes comes under certain rules and restrictions. You must only use those approved for the purposes of controlling fox numbers.