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Foxes in the Henhouse. Or Garden

We live in a suburb of Denver. No farmland nearby. No forests nearby. Just houses, businesses, and the rare empty lot and foreclosed house. We had barely moved into our new house February 2008 when we found a couple families of squirrels living in our attic, and a family of red foxes living under our back patio. (This house stood empty for about 18 months - more than enough time for critters to move in.) The squirrels needed an professional help, but for the foxes, since they are considered wildlife, we needed to simply "discourage" them.

First, we flooded the hole they'd dug under the back patio (to get all of them out - and scamper they did!). Then we filled it with cement before they could come back. They found a way to dig a hole on the other side of the patio so we had to flood that one and fill it with cement. They still tried to dig more holes so we surrounded the patio with large cement blocks the previous owner had placed in stacks around the yard, unfinished projects, we assumed.

We kept seeing the foxes. They must have made a den somewhere else in the suburb, but they liked our house. They would bark as they ran down the street at dusk, slowing and creeping onto our property. Burrowing into our front raised beds where I had tried to plant asparagus. Killing animals and devouring them on our front porch during the black of night (we often awoke to a bloody front porch, and skulls or tails on the front lawn).

I kept trying to plant vegetables, fruits and flowers in the front raised beds, but they would end up scattered all over the place from them making a burrow for their bodies. We even sprayed tiger and lion urine (from the local zoo) all over, but it did nothing! And, I make a "bed of nails" which they just moved aside and laid down. We bought an ultrasonic noise emitter - squirrels and birds kept setting it off. We tied packets of human hair all around the area.

Nothing deterred these foxes.

Except maybe time. They finally left for the season, and haven't been back yet. I wonder, no, I **hope** it's because we got a couple of dogs!

In case you have a problem with foxes in your yard, and you're trying very hard to have a garden to prepare for worse times... here's a bit of information about them (from: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Mammals/Foxes.htm):

  • Description: Four species of foxes make Colorado home. Red and gray foxes are three feet long and weigh nine to 11 pounds. Red foxes are reddish orange above, white below, and have a white-tipped tail and black ears and feet. Gray foxes have a black-tipped tail, reddish ears and feet and a mane of stiff black hairs on their grayish brown back. Swift and kit foxes are only 27 to 36 inches long; their tails are as long as their bodies. They weigh just four to seven pounds.
  • Diet: Foxes mostly eat rodents, rabbits and birds. The smaller fox species eat large quantities of insects. The gray fox is distinctive in that it sometimes forages in trees for fruit and nestling birds. Red and gray foxes are most active at dawn and dusk; the smaller, arid-land foxes are more nocturnal.
  • Reproduction: Coloradan foxes all produce a single litter of young per year. Gestation periods range from seven to eight weeks, and litter sizes probably average around four. Gray and kit foxes are not particularly common in most of their range in Colorado. Red foxes have increased greatly with the growth of irrigated agriculture on the plains. Swift foxes were nearly driven to extinction as an unintended side effect of programs to eradicated wolves and coyotes, but now are recovering.

From: http://www.aaanimalcontrol.com/Professional-Trapper/howtogetridoffoxcoyotes.htm:

  • Nuisance Concerns: Fox are a nuisance primarily for poultry producers. Turkeys, chickens, ducks, and geese are all susceptible to an opportunistic fox. Young pigs, lambs, and small pets are also killed by foxes. Foxes may carry rabies. Additionally, foxes have been known to steal pet food left outside for outdoor pets.
  • Dog Issues: If you have a concern about a dog, whether it's a lost pet dog, a dangerous dog in your neighborhood, or to file a complaint about a barking dog, please visit my (his) dog issues page. You will find information on these topics, as well as dog services such as dog vaccinations, dog spay or neuter, or dog adoption programs. This website deals mostly with nuisance wildlife, but I have the phone numbers of almost every county animal control service in the country on this website.
  • Wondering how to get rid of fox or coyotes? There is no magic spray or device that you can use to make them go away. Some people try to sell ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are worthless at eliminating fox or coyotes. Some old wives' tales recommend the use of mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I've been to countless homes where these techniques failed - biologists know that these attempts won't work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your problem is with trapping and removal of the animals.
I don't really agree with that last part: foxes are too smart to be caught in a trap. My opinion? If you have a fox problem, try everything you can. It may be a combination that actually finally works. Meanwhile, keep those chickens and other livestock safe.

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