Don’t be surprised if you find a fox denning under your deck this spring. They will leave on their own, usually by the end of June, but they can be scared away if desired. Follow the best practices below to remove or prevent a family of fox from denning on your property. Once foxes have given birth to kits, we don’t generally recommend trying to remove the family as invariably this would involve trapping and then they legally must be killed.
Creating a Safe Shared Space for Children, Pets and Foxes
Foxes pose no real danger to children, cats or dogs. Urban foxes have chosen their den locations because human and pet traffic help protect them from wild predators.
However, the foxes then also think of the deck or porch and surrounding yard as “their” space.
One way to create a “safe zone” for children or pets who play in the yard, is to use garden fencing, chicken wire, snow fencing or similar small-mesh barrier and wrap the deck except for one small gap at one end of the deck so the fox family can enter and exit. Continue the fencing on around a bit of the yard area, especially if the fence wrap can lead toward a natural corridor such as a row of trees or woods or creek etc.
This will help train the fox to use that entry and that side of the fence. If they come into the main deck area, chase them off to train them to dart back around to “their side” of the fence.
Often, putting up such a temporary fence and only leaving a small entry point, combined with the noise and lights and constant hazing, the fox will move their kits to one of their alternate dens.
Another option is to use the garden wire mesh fencing from the railings of the deck on into the yard to create a temporary “mini backyard” for pets or children. While fox can jump or climb or dig under fences, this is not an area they would bother to do that, since their den and hunting areas are under the deck and around the perimeter of the property.
If you want to prevent future denning activity in certain areas where foxes are not welcome, try one or more of these humane, yet effective, approaches. This is most likely to work when you have access to their den. It’s easy to harass a red fox enough to convince them to move their kits.
- Make noise near their den site. Run motors, shout, increase your activity in that area.
- Install a motion-activated sprinkler.
- Apply products sold in garden and hardware stores to repel domestic dogs from gardens and yards, as they will have a similar effect on a passing fox.
- Use toy foam dart gun or similar toys to “shoot” at the fox. You don’t have to hit it to scare it off, but if you can, that will more effectively train the fox to stay away.
- Place a radio near or above the den and play annoying talk radio or irritating music. Doesn’t have to be loud, just loud enough the foxes can hear it in the den.
- Place a bright light shining directly at the den entrance. An LED holiday fixture that flashes is good too. They do not like strobing or flashing light, especially if it is brighter, white lighting.
- Experiment with noisemakers, such as bangers and screamers. You may be able to use predator calls (such as the Coyote Howler™) to frighten foxes away from their dens.
- One scare device, the Critter Gitter®, combines a siren and flashing lights. It’s triggered by a motion detector. The device switches patterns, so it should be effective longer than a scare device that doesn’t vary.
- Place urine soaked kitty litter, a sweat-soaked T-shirt, a pair of smelly sweat socks or old sneakers in or near the den opening.
- Mount shiny party balloons or 12-18 inch lengths of Irri-tape mounted on sticks or poles two or three feet off the ground, just outside and around the den entrance.
- Spread a non-toxic granular repellent that is capsacin based around the den entry.
- Loosely pack leaves, soil, or mulch in the den openings to disturb the residents.
Removing food sources (garbage, compost, pet food)
- If anyone is feeding the foxes, persuade them to stop.
- “Fox-proof” garbage cans or dumpsters with a tight-fitting lid. Secure garbage can with heavy-duty straps or bungee cords, or attach it to a post, or keep it out of reach in the garage (close garage doors at night), or place the can in a covered and locked bin.
- Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth or welded wire; in a sturdy container, such as a 55-gallon drum; or in a commercial composter.
- Feed pets indoors. Any food left outdoors should be removed at night. Bring pet food dishes inside, too.
- Remove and properly dispose of livestock carcasses.
Preventing foxes from denning under porches and decks
Use a 2″ net wire fence, hardware cloth, welded wire, or galvanized sheet metal. (You may wish to recommend the use of smaller mesh because this will also prevent other animals, such as skunks and woodchucks, from gaining access). Create a “rat wall.” Attach the hardware cloth to the bottom of the deck. Then bury the bottom of your “wall” 6–12″, with a foot-wide shelf that sticks out, to prevent animals from digging underneath the barrier (this will look like the letter “L”).
For professional assistance with non-lethal hazing and evicting wildlife and permanently preventing them from re-entering a deck, porch or shed type area, contact:
SCRAM Wildlife Control