Fox

Foxes

The fox unit has hands on dealings with up to forty foxes each year, and also provides an advisory service. Many are cubs, separated from their mother or orphans.

Some foxes have been caught in snares, suffering horrendous injuries as a result; many are caught in nets, fencing and barbed wire, while others are victims of road traffic accidents. The most common problem afflicting foxes is sarcopic mange, caused by mites burrowing into the fur which irritates the skin resulting in fur loss. This in turn affects the fox's ability to hunt and sleep, eventually weakening the animals and often resulting in death.

Calls from concerned members of the public have our Foxman out and about on a regular basis, laying traps, which are responsibly monitored, in areas that injured or orphaned foxes are sighted. Once caught, they are treated by a vet throughout their stay and kept on site until a full recovery has been made. The foxes are then released, back where they were found, unless the area poses a serious threat to their wellbeing.

Fox cubs are released in “soft release” pens, where they are subsidised and monitored while they acclimatise to their new environment over a period of time.

How Can You Help

If you see an injured fox contact the Foxman or another fox rescue as these animals require expert handling and trapping and you could be injured when attempting to capture one. If you can safely isolate a fox, a garage or shed is ideal, while waiting for professional help.

Think carefully before removing apparently abandoned cub/cubs from the wild. Vixens do leave their cubs for extended periods of time, and often move them if they sense danger. Often family members, sisters or older daughters assist in caring for the cubs. If you are certain a cub has been abandoned/orphaned, contact the Foxman or another fox rescue.

With regard to feeding foxes in the wild, it is paramount that all dealings with the fox are maintained from a distance. Tame foxes are unlikely to survive and many people fear them and will panic if approached by one. Foxes are wild animals, and should always be treated and respected as such.

Many people assume that urban foxes do not know how to hunt, but, although scavenging is preferable to all foxes, urban foxes are just as competent at catching small animals, birds and rabbits as country foxes.

Remember, when feeding foxes, that not all people like these creatures and those who are anti-fox may employ a pest controller. Foxes are not dependant on man to survive.

If you do intend to feed foxes, canned dog food is suitable, along with unsalted peanuts and raisins as these cannot be carried away to a garden where the fox is an unwelcome visitor. The raisins will satisfy a fox’s sweet tooth and the animal will linger longer.

To avoid injuring foxes, always check for an earth under sheds and small outbuildings in the event of demolition and keep natural areas, including gardens free of litter, broken glass and jagged objects. Remove old netting and check that netting and chicken wire used in the garden are free of holes and in good condition as tears often trap and ensnare foxes.

Report self locking, unmonitored snares

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985, free-running snares are legal throughout the UK, while self-locking snares are illegal. A free-running snare should slacken when the animal stops struggling, while a self-locking snare becomes tighter. However, these terms are not clearly defined and a rusted, kinked or knotted snare effectively becomes self-locking.

Legislation for England and Wales has not been revised recently, but it does provide that snares must be inspected every day and must not be set in a manner calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild animal coming into contact with them.

Captured animals may also be protected from ill-treatment by the domestic animal welfare legislation covering animals “under the control of man” in the UK.

Fox Facts

• Foxes mate in January and February. The vixen's calls are high-pitched, eerie and haunting. Each litter is born in March; usually four or five cubs.

• Fox cubs are born blind and open their eyes after two weeks. They are grey/brown at birth and the fur turns red when they are four weeks old. By seven weeks, the cubs are weaned. Some leave and seek out new territory in the autumn, others, usually females, remain and help raise the following year's litter.

• Foxes are nocturnal and members of the Canidae family, which includes domestic dogs, wolves, and Jackals.

• They are adaptable, wily and intelligent.

• The life expectancy of a fox is short, usually 12-18 months in urban areas and 3 years in rural areas. Most are killed by cars. A fox can live until they are nine years old.

• Foxes have acute hearing.

• They can run at 30 mph.

• When communicating, they have up to 28 different calls.

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Thankfully there are many thousands of people who appreciate foxes for the amazing creatures they are. They do not see them as vermin or as things to kill for sport. 

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