Do pest control deal with foxes?

No, we don’t deal with foxes.

Why won't the council deal with foxes?

Foxes in Portsmouth often live on a diet of food scavenged from refuse bags left out on the street, badly-cleaned or easily accessed refuse storage areas, carelessly discarded fast-food, berries, plant bulbs, worms, garden insects, birds and other small mammals, including rats and mice.

Portsmouth City Council has neither a legal duty nor the resources to control fox numbers

If sufficient resources did exist, we would still need to cull more than 60% of the fox population to make a material difference to the numbers on our streets. Any void created would quickly be filled by other foxes taking over their established areas.

Culling is unacceptable to many residents, as many like to see foxes in the city. It could be argued that foxes actually benefit our environment because they prey upon a number of pest species, including rats and mice.

Our policy is to try to educate residents about the circumstances which accidentally encourage foxes into gardens, and how simple steps can be taken to prevent foxes from being enticed to stay in a particular area.

How do I discourage foxes from coming to the area?

This is what we recommend:

  • keep rubbish in your wheeled bin, if you have one
  • if you don’t have a wheeled bin, then if possible only put rubbish out on the morning of the collection day
  • do not leave pet food bowls out in the garden
  • ensure rubbish can’t be accessed by foxes, rats or mice; and that the floor is kept clean and free from spillages
  • do not drop food litter on the street.

Other than denying foxes a source of food or shelter, there is very little you can do to control foxes.

What can I do about foxes in the garden?

If a fox is living in your garden, you could use an animal repellent. You shouldn’t try to poison foxes because this puts other animals (such as pets and wild birds) and humans at risk.

People who use poisons illegally can face large fines and possibly a prison sentence. If you need help with foxes you should contact a pest control professional for advice. For more information, try finding a professional on The British Pest Control Association website.

Legally, there are only two permitted methods of fox control – cage trapping or shooting. Both methods can only be carried out by a trained pest control professional.

Cage trapping is a relatively safe way of removing foxes – but if a fox is trapped in a cage the animal will be killed by lethal injection. This costs around £500 – £1000 per fox – and the resident that contracts the company is responsible for the costs

Not only are both methods of controlling foxes impractical, they can also be a waste of time and money. Any respite achieved by removing a fox is generally temporary – other foxes will quickly colonize the now ‘vacant’ territory.

Facts about foxes

  • Foxes are nocturnal mammals that hunt and scavenge for food in the darkness. It’s unusual to see foxes on our streets during the day, as they tend to avoid people and traffic.
  • Attacks by foxes upon humans are extremely rare and they aren’t considered to be a threat to public safety.
  • Foxes are very unlikely to kill cats, and shouldn’t be able to kill other outdoor pets if runs or hutches are kept secure
  • Foxes in the UK do not carry rabies
  • We would recommend that you do not feed foxes, as it makes them tame
  • Urban foxes can get mange (from the same mite which causes mange in dogs and scabies in people) but no more than country foxes
  • You can’t stop a fox screaming – this normally only occurs in the mating season around December and January
  • You can try to stop foxes fouling in your garden using formulations designed for cats and dogs
  • Foxes will dig gardens for worms, grubs and beetle larva in wet autumns and springs – stop the digging by using a commercially available insecticide to remove the insects
  • Stop foxes living under your house by ensuring that your property is in good repair, replacing any broken air bricks and sealing holes around pipes