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Public urged not to feed foxes

foxesDON’T FEED foxes is one of the key recommendations in a new document entitled Urban Foxes: Guidelines on their management launched today.

The publication produced by a coalition of public health bodies and conservation organisations provides the most up to date advice and guidance on practical methods to control the urban fox population.

With so many differing views and opinions on the management of urban fox populations, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH)and its National Pest Advisory Panel (NPAP) called on specialist knowledge and expertise to help produce this science-based document. The guidance incorporates the views of public health practitioners, pest controllers and conservationists.

Few doubt that left unchecked urban foxes can cause disturbance, nuisance and in rare cases a public health threat. The urban environment in our cities provides a very suitable environment for foxes to live, breed and in many cases thrive.

Poor food waste management at fast food outlets and restaurants, overgrown back gardens, gaps under sheds and house foundations and broken air vents are all contributory factors to the successful colonisation of urban areas of foxes.
Some people enjoy seeing foxes in their gardens and actively encourage them by providing food and harbourage. By addressing these two core areas, public health campaigners say it is possible to lessen the risk of foxes becoming a problems in the first instance.

Key recommendations in the document include:

  • Do not feed foxes, either intentionally or unintentionally, as this can disrupt the ‘natural order of things’ and artificially sustain populations. Store rubbish, especially food waste (including composted food waste), in fox proof containers made of materials such as metals
  • Ensure foxes cannot access food put out for other wildlife or pets
  • Always clear away spilt food from under any bird feeder
  • Clear overgrown areas of gardens, especially where there are brambles
  • Ensure that gaps under sheds and house foundations are suitably proofed to prevent ingress

Commenting on the document, Bob Mayho, CIEH Principal Policy Officer, said:

“While there is no single solution to managing fox problems, I am confident that this document can help the public, public health professionals and pest controllers with enough solid guidance to help manage ‘fox problems’ in a practical and humane way.

“Foxes are a natural part of our urban environment but their numbers do need to be controlled to avoid them causing a nuisance or a potential public health problem.

“Digging, defecating and bin raiding habits of foxes can cause considerable nuisance and disturbance. The risk of catching infections from a fox in the UK is low but care should be taken to avoid direct contact with faeces. Do not handle droppings with bare hands and ensure that children and adults always wash their hands after spending time in the garden.”