Controlling urban foxes is difficult, expensive, and rarely successful. In the past a number of Local Authorities tried this, particularly in England, but most have now given up any form of fox control. The problem is that foxes have been in urban areas for so long that they have reached a state of equilibrium, and regulate the size of their own population. At present it is estimated that there is an annual mortality rate of 50% per annum, mostly as a result of road deaths. This may sound high, but it is actually much lower than the foxes could sustain. A large proportion of the foxes do not breed each year, and litter sizes (average just under five) are comparatively small.
The moment you increase the mortality rate, the foxes compensate by increasing the number of vixens that breed. So you do not reduce the number of foxes in the area. What you do achieve, however, is a disruption of the fox population, so that new foxes move in to try to take over the territory of the animal that has been killed. Invariably more than one fox moves in, there are fights over the territory, and hence more noise and fouling of gardens. This is because calling and scent marking with both urine and faeces are used to lay claim to a territory. On top of this, having more itinerant foxes in an area is likely to lead to more killing of pets and more general nuisance.
Not only is urban fox control unlikely to achieve anything, it is both difficult and very expensive. Shooting is obviously not acceptable in urban areas, nor is snaring, and so only live trapping is left. The fox's reputation for cunning is well earned; it is very difficult to get one to walk into a cage trap, even if there is a really tasty delicacy inside. Catching the first fox may take three weeks or longer. However, foxes live in family groups, with an average size of about three adults and four or five cubs. Catching the second fox is harder still, and it is virtually impossible to catch them all. Long before you get near this goal new foxes are moving in to colonise the vacant niche.
So at best only a very temporary reduction in the number of foxes is achieved for a considerable expenditure of time and effort.
For further information or advice, details on charges, and for arranging treatment, please contact the Pest Control Section on 01382 436288.