Living with foxes
Lambeth Council, like other local authorities, does not control the population of foxes and discourages the killing of foxes. However, we do provide advice about how to deter foxes from resident's gardens.
Foxes have never been classified as vermin by DEFRA. So, local authorities have no legal obligation to act against them.
There are a few private pest control companies who offer such a service. However, within the fox world there is no such thing as a vacant territory. If you remove one fox another will take over the territory within weeks. Removal or destruction of foxes is, at best, expensive and at worst, an act of cruelty.
Fox populations are self regulating. They cannot over-populate, but will always breed back to replace numbers lost since the previous breeding season. Deterrence is cheaper, more effective and more humane.
December to February is one of the most common times that people experience a problem with foxes as it is their breeding season and consequently they are more vocal and territorial.
The autumn also sees an increase in the number of calls about foxes. This is due to the cubs dispersing and starting to establish territories of their own.
Problems associated with foxes
Common problems associated with foxes are fouling, digging and noise. Fortunately, there are things which can be done to deter foxes and prevent some of these problems.
Do not feed foxes
Although lots of people derive pleasure from feeding foxes it can lead to neighbours experiencing problems. Feeding foxes reduces their territory to approximately 10% of its former range. This increases the number of foxes in the area and also increases the likelihood that they will foul and dig in gardens.
Make sure your rubbish is secure
Although foxes will eat a diverse array of prey, they are lazy and will scavenge if food is not kept in a secure container. Put your rubbish in a secure bin and ensure the lid is closed.
Keep your garden clean and tidy
Foxes are attracted to gardens that are untidy and overgrown as these provide excellent shelter, particularly for mothers with cubs.
Clearing these areas will make them much less attractive, and hopefully reduce the numbers of foxes in your garden.
Objects such as old gardening gloves and shoes can smell very interesting to foxes and they may treat them as potential playthings and remove them from your garden. Try and tidy away anything of potential interest once you have finished with it.
Concrete bases for sheds and garages
Many females dig a den for their cubs under sheds and garages. We recommend that you build your shed or garage on a concrete base thus preventing the fox from digging underneath it. Ensure that all broken air bricks are replaced before the start of the breeding season.
Removing fox scents
The main reason that foxes repeatedly foul the same areas in gardens is to mark their territory. If they are fouling concrete areas, cleaning with chemicals such as bleach temporarily masks the smell: it does not remove it and therefore the fox continues to foul. Using a product that breaks down the residue of the waste can reduce the fouling in the garden. Use a biological washing powder mixed with hot water or get an enzyme based product from your vet.
Always use gloves when removing fox waste. You may have to persistently wash the same spot, sometimes everyday for a fortnight, but usually the fox eventually gets the idea and stops fouling in the area.
If after taking the above measures you are still experiencing problems with foxes in your garden, there are some commercially available deterrents which you can purchase from your local garden centre.
The most commonly used ones are called ‘Get off my garden’ and 'Scoot'. Please be aware that these are aimed at cats and may therefore upset your or your neighbours' pets.