Foxes can be problematic in a variety of situations, their numbers are relatively high in Scotland mainly due to their adaptability and willingness to colonise urban areas. Rural fox populations tend to prey on wild animals taking anything from mammals such as young deer and rabbits through birds and their eggs to invertebrates such as earth worms. This highly varied diet has enabled them to survive and thrive through all the land use changes that have occurred over hundreds of years. Rural foxes will take young lambs and can cause havoc on free range poultry farms, traditionally they were controlled mainly due to their impact on ground nesting game birds such as pheasants, although this still continues the numbers of working gamekeepers in Scotland has fallen dramatically in the last 30 years.
Urban foxes are regarded by many as a valuable addition to the urban ecosystem, to others they can be a real pest. Like their rural cousins urban foxes have a varied diet, unlike Rural foxes this diet may include chicken vindaloo or any other food left out where they can reach it. Pets such as rabbits and chickens may be taken if they are not securely locked up. Urban foxes will still eat invertebrates like the rural foxes do, this can cause problems as the digging and rooting can damage lawns and gardens. They may also set up home in gardens, where this happens the disruption can be severe, noise and smells, are the usual complaints, however disease is also a risk as bones and other detritus make be left outside the den. Foxes can also carry diseases which can affect dogs, such as mange. In the worst cases foxes can take up residence under buildings in cellars and voids, in these circumstances the problems with noise, smells and unsanitary conditions can be extreme. These cases are rare however, it is more likely they will decide to live under your garden shed or deck. Foxes will raid bins if they can, wheelie bins seem to be fox proof but bags of rubbish left out make easy pickings, these can be looted and their contents scattered.
Controlling Urban Foxes
Urban foxes can be controlled in a number of ways, prevention is always better than cure, although making a large area fox proof can be tricky. Foxes are adept and agile climbers, a 6 foot fence is no obstacle to a fox so it is better to try and secure areas where they may cause particular problems rather than the garden as a whole. Rabbit and poultry runs, bin stores, sheds and decks can be made fox proof relatively easily, we can advise on the best way to do this, or our landscaping team can construct secure runs and barriers. In some circumstances foxes can be humanely trapped and removed or shot, we have a strict risk assessment mitigation procedure to assess wether this will be possible in all locations. Where shooting is possible our trained marksmen will prepare a full method statement based on the risk assessment and provide copies to the client and to Police Scotland who will be notified of the work. We will usually try and control a problem through other means before shooting.