Evicting a Family of Foxes from Your Yard

Foxes will often come in close to humans to raise their young , choosing the lesser of two perceived evils- human danger or coyote danger.  Because they compete for the same food source, a coyote may kill young foxes to make sure there is plenty of food for her own pups.  Foxes  will often choose to have their pups close to humans, where the coyotes are less likely to find them when they are very  young.  As the pups get older, usually around June or July, they are more able escape a coyote on their own, and the coyotes are too busy raising their own families to bother much with foxes anymore. At this time, the young foxes will leave the safety of the yard for more wild places.  soon after that, usually starting in September, the foxes will disperse, often travelling more than 100 miles to find a new territory.

Watching a fox family grow up is a very safe, entertaining and educational way to enjoy Spring and part of Summer.  Before you decide to evict the family, consider allowing them to rent your space, and in turn, you and possibly your neighbors will have a rodent free yard and what will most likely be your best gardens ever.  In addition, you may also be able to take some very beautiful photos and cute videos!

A healthy fox family won’t hurt children or pets.  The most a protective action a parent fox might take is chase a domestic cat that gets too close to her babies back to your back deck or up a tree.  Foxes don’t want to kill or eat your dogs, cats or kids. The average fox rarely tops 11 pounds. It is very important to know that a mother fox will hunt all times of the day and night.  Often the male will leave early on, leaving the female to work very hard, hunting 24/7  to bring back food for her growing pups.Unfortunately, humans who don’t know this will be alarmed to see a fox running through their yard during the day and sometimes extreme action such as shooting the mother fox will be taken, creating orphans.  Because momma foxes are often crossing roads more often, sometimes she will be hit by a car.  If this happens, a trail cam to make sure that the pups are indeed orphaned will help to determine what action to take if any.  Often orphaned pups are old enough to survive and leave on their own.  Contacting a knowledgeable Wildlife Rehabilitator at this time can help determine the best course of action.

If you choose to convince the foxes to move, the earlier you do it, the better.  The older the family gets, the less the female is sensitive to interference.   Because a mother fox is concerned about coyotes, using coyote urine in the area will make her think a coyote is around.  It is very likely she will move her pups within days to a new secret location far from the “marked” area.  Sprinkle the coyote urine around the den area. Again, the younger the pups are, the more effective this is.

Putting a foreign object such as a chair  near the den may also help convince mom that her den has been discovered.  However, keep in mind we don’t want to frighten her too much so that she isn’t comfortable retrieving her pups and we want to make sure she has a clear and safe entrance and exit to get them out one by one.  Often simply increasing your activity in the area works.  Don’t be afraid to use your deck, mow your lawn, do your gardening.  Mother foxes aren’t aggressive protectors like grizzly bears. The most they will do is stand at a distance, watching you and bark a warning for her pups to take cover  because danger is near. This is not a warning to you, it is a warning to her pups- YOU are the danger.

Balloons are very scary to foxes, especially  when they move in the breeze.  Punch balloons, sold as children’s toys are inexpensive and  hardy and when a small handful of beads or pebbles are placed inside them before inflated,  they make scary noises too! When placed appropriately about 2 feet off the ground, they will discourage a fox from coming into or traveling through your yard.

Hiring a Nuisance Control company to trap and remove the foxes rarely works out well for the foxes or your pocketbook.  Only the very young will be captured, and usually only a few.  The parents will not be easy to catch, and relocation is not going to work. Most likely all that will happen is the fox family will be fragmented or destroyed and you will spend a lot of money. “Relocation” of a fox family by a trapper is not realistic, so please don’t fall for that.  You will be wasting your money.   As suggested earlier in this piece, to convince the female to relocate her own family using one or all of these methods mentioned  is the most effective and humane way.

Most likely, the family will be gone by late June or July. Foxes only use a den to raise their families, and the rest of the year, they are nomads, napping  under trees and wherever they find a quiet place.   If you don’t want them back again next year, mid-July is the time to do repairs and permanent exclusion from the area with strong fencing, concrete block, or rocks.  This will prevent not only  foxes, but skunks, raccoons and woodchucks from using the space to raise their young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snared Red fox

We don’t need to tell anyone how deadly and dangerous snares are for all animals , both wild and domestic.. This beautiful male red fox got caught in an improperly and illegally set snare trap. The wire cut deep into his neck as he ran with the device until the stake got snagged on a fence.  He was discovered by a homeowner who called for help.  the wire was cut off of his neck, but not before significant damage was done.  Though the fox was free of the wire, it had dug so deeply into his neck that nerve damage affected not only his eye, but his trachea. Because of the nature of this damage, he had to be humanely euthanized.  Did you know that there is a bill currently being sponsored  by the trapping associations to legalize these horrific snares in New York?  What a step back this would be.  

Eastern Coyote with Sarcoptic Mange gets a Second Chance

This sweetheart was found in Orchard Park, NY, dying from a nasty skin infection brought on by Sarcoptic Mange mites.  She was treated for the infection with a long-acting antibiotic, given life-saving fluids and mange medicine was applied.  She is presently being cared for at Fox Wood, and is a model patient – compliant and gentle.  Because the Mange and infection creates a situation where they are also starving, she is being fed small amounts of easily digested food many times a day.  Please check out our wishlist on Amazon.com if you would like to contribute to her care.  We are also accepting donations through PayPal (foxladye@yahoo.com).   We are hoping to be able to release her in Spring .

Treating Sarcoptic Mange in Red foxes

Fox with mangePlease watch the YouTube video at the end of this article to see the treatment outlined on this page being used on a Red fox on Long Island- watch his transformation from sick back to healthy again!

I often get calls and e-mails from people who have a Red fox around that is acting lethargic or unfearful of humans.  They will stay close to houses and will eat under the bird feeders, seek refuge under decks and often lay in the hay in barns.  A scruffy, thin appearance usually indicates that the fox has Sarcoptic mange.

Sarcoptic mange is the name for the skin disease caused by infection with the Sarcoptes scabei mite.  The mites are microscopic and can’t be seen by the naked eye.  Female Sarcoptes mites burrow under the skin and leave a trail of eggs behind. This burrowing creates an inflammatory response in the skin similar to an allergic reaction.  The motion of the mite in and on the skin is extremely itchy, as is the hatching of the eggs. This creates further allergic reaction and more itching, loss of sleep and reduced immune response.  Loss of fur, scaly skin  and a general unthrifty appearance is characteristic of a Sarcoptic mange infestation.  The condition worsens as a skin infection sets in.  The foxes immune system is even more compromised and internal parasites (tape, hook and round worms) begin to take over and absorb any nutrients that fox may find.  Mangy foxes are usually starving in the late stages.

These foxes are not a threat to people, dogs, cats, etc.  They are close to people and buildings because there may be easy food such as cat or dog food left out in dishes, bird seed, garbage, insects, worms, roadkill and a mouse or two.  They are also losing their ability to thermoregulate  and need protection from wind, shade, sun, whatever the present need of the body is.  Mangy foxes (and coyotes) often seek out a pile of hay to lay in. Hay seems to relieve the itchiness and provide a source of comfort.

Sarcoptic mange is treatable if the animal is treated in time before the process of organ failure begins. The drug of choice is inexpensive and easy to obtain. Although it is an “off-label use” according to the FDA, Ivermectin injection for cattle and pigs is a very effective cure for Sarcoptic mange in foxes.  This injectable solution works orally and can easily be slipped into food. The ivermectin also treats a lot of the intestinal worms and any ear mites. The catch is this: it kills the mites living on the skin but doesn’t kill the eggs .  These eggs will hatch and reinfect the fox, so it has to be administered  many times to kill the mange mites that hatch after treatment.  A  less expensive  injectable version of Ivermectin such as Ivermax 1% or Noromectin 1% are readily available online and in some farm stores.  I strongly recommend treating Red foxes very aggressively, giving them the Ivermectin every five days for the first three weeks. After the first three weeks, you can dose them every ten days.  Be sure to treat them for at least 4-5 weeks.  A daily feeding station using dry cat or dog food can be set up  to facilitate the administration of tasty treats laced with ivermectin.  Frozen all beef meatballs with no spices work great and when they are warmed up, are easy to inject the medication into. A spoonful of canned cat food, a hard boiled egg, a chunk of cooked chicken or a section of hot dog can also easily be injected with the ivermectin.

Frequently more than one fox or wild animal is coming to your yard.  I recommend injecting several different pieces of food with 0.2 ml and tossing them in different directions, at least 100 feet or so apart, in the hope that one animal might find one piece, but not the other.  Ivermectin is fairly safe, and if a fox happens to get more than one dose in a day, it will be fine.  Meatballs work great for this!

Figure your fox weighs 10 lbs, so give him 0.2 mL for each dose. Many people think they are much larger, but they aren’t. For young foxes in April or May  you can cut the dose in half.  You will need a large needle to draw the solution out of the bottle because the solution is rather thick.  Ivermectin is a non-prescription product and available online through many livestock suppliers, such as Jeffers.com or Amazon.com   Here is a link and a picture of the product I  recommend:

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/ivomec-1-50ml

Ivomec

WARNING:  Use ONLY the INJECTABLE Ivermectin NOT the “POUR ON” , as the agents for carrying the pour-on through the skin are highly  toxic if ingested! If anyone tells you different, they do not know what they are doing!

Tractor Supply Co stores (www.tractorsupply.com)  carry Ivermectin. and it is readily available online.  I recommend the 50 ml size 1% sterile solution Ivomec Brand Ivermectin for cattle and swine as pictured above.  It averages $40 to $50 for 50 ml.  You will need to get a fat needle and syringe to draw it out of the bottle. Tractor supply Co sells vaccines that include a needle and syringe for administration, so you could spend a little extra on a vaccine and use that needle.  Some people have used the Ivermectin wormer paste for horses and say it works, though it isn’t palatable  for the foxes and I personally have never used it. Use it as a last resort.  Don’t use the  pour-on for livestock, as it would be toxic given orally!

NoromectinUse 0.2 mL (or 0.2 cc)   Giving the solution orally (By mouth) in their food is safe and has a larger margin for error than injecting subcutaneously.

Of course other wildlife might get to the food before the fox does, so try to use your judgment and administer it the best way that will target only the fox.  Placing a leaf or a little grass over the baited food will lower the risk of it being seen and eaten  by crows.  Using hard boiled eggs will decrease the chances of the food being eaten by cats. Ivermectin is a pretty safe drug and won’t harm most wildlife.  Some breeds of dogs can be very sensitive to it, particularly the collie family and Australian shepherds . Don’t use ivermectin if there is a chance a collie breed might eat the bait.   Use extra caution around domestic animals.  They use Ivermectin in third world countries to treat different things, such as scabies in humans.  Ivermectin is also used to treat dogs for mange, and it is also a good wormer for many animals.

Select topical products Advantage Multi and Revolution can be obtained through your veterinarian and used to help prevent your domestic dogs from picking up mange in the grass surrounding your property.  I have found Advantage Multi and Revolution to be  very effective preventatives for mange in dogs, but very ineffective cures for mange, unless applied every two weeks during the month for at least 6 weeks.  I apply Advantage Multi or Revolution to all my foxes just before they are released back to the wild as a preventative measure for them.

Fox with mangeCan people get mange? You bet, but it won’t live and reproduce on your skin.  It will give you one heck of an itchy red allergic reaction if you are sensitive to mange mites though.

Please watch the beautiful short video on Youtube made by a gentleman on Long Island who was able to videotape his treatment of a Red fox with mange in his back yard. He used the treatment outlined above.

Free Program on Foxes Feb. 21, 2017 in Amherst, NY

Nursing fox

Foxes are making their homes and raising their families among suburban neighborhoods more than ever.  In an effort to help home owners determine when and how to manage this new issue,   Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment, Animal Advocates of WNY in cooperation with the  Town of Amherst Youth and Recreation Department , are presenting a free program for the community titled: The Facts on Foxes in Your Neighborhood.
Learn all about New York foxes, learn suburban fox ecology, why they are in your neighborhood, and what you need to know if a fox family takes residence in your back yard.  Learn the facts, hear interesting stories and take part in a valuable Q & A discussion afterward. Bring your questions and concerns!

The speaker, Elise Able,  is known as The Fox Lady. She is a long time New York State Wildlife rehabilitator and NY State licensed Nuisance Control Operator. Elise promises a entertaining and interesting evening. This program will be held from Tues. Feb 21, 2017 from 7 – 9 PM at the Harlem Road Community Center at 4255 Harlem Road in Amherst, NY. Seating is limited, so RSVP/ Reservations  are recommended. For questions or to reserve your seat, Private Message Fox Wood Wildlife Rescue, Inc on Facebook or e-mail foxladye@yahoo.com.