How To Get Rid Of Foxes Without Killing Them In Winter

Red fox in the wild forest blending in camouflage | How To Get Rid Of Foxes Without Killing Them In Winter | Featured

September 18, 2023 / Comments (13)

Featured Homesteading

Do foxes occasionally visit your property? Check out these useful tips on how to keep them from targeting your homestead.

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Tips on Keeping the Foxes Away

Elusive Hunters

Foxes can be a problem. If they have prowled around your property and have found an area for easy prey, then they will return.

They are nocturnal hunters and are very elusive. By the morning hours, they have already made their presence, hunted, and gone back to their den.


Signs that you may have foxes on your property include pawprints around your chicken coop or vegetable garden, unexplained holes in the ground (their possible den), missing garden vegetables, and/or missing chickens.

Foxes are pretty active in the winter months—more active than you may realize. Just how active are they in December, January, and February?

Let’s go over some fox facts, their behaviors, and their activities throughout the winter months.

Fox Activities in December

With the mating season approaching, foxes will now be actively defending their territories. The triple bark, often followed by a scream, can be heard frequently.

It's this call that leads many to believe the foxes are killing cats. Often, the police will also be called out in the belief that someone is being attacked.

The territory borders are now showing increasing evidence of fox activity, and the musky smell of foxes is evident.

Fox Activities in January

January is usually the month of unrest within the Fox family; not only is it the peak of the mating season, but also the peak dispersal season as well.

Cubs that were born last year, now adults, will be seen as a threat to the breeding rights and the available food supply of their parents.

Any sub-adults who have failed to disperse will usually be continually chased away. Many of the sub-adults will actually leave of their own accord in search of territory and a mate of their own.

The resident dog fox and vixen will be actively defending the territory against intruders, both physically and vocally. They do this by barking, urinating, and defecating along the borders of their territory.

Fox Activities in February

Quite the opposite of January, February is usually a relatively stable month for the Fox family. The dispersal season is over, and the fights over who breeds with whom have now stopped.

While many of the litter born over the years disperse when old enough, some of the foxes, usually the females stay on within their parent’s territory.

Although they will have given up their right to breed, some of the benefits outweigh them, such as a secure territory, a regular supply of food, and knowledge of the area.


The dominant vixen is usually the only vixen allowed to mate, but females from previous litters will play their part in actually looking after and rearing the young when they are born.

They act as ‘aunties’ looking after the cubs while the vixen is away hunting and will also bring food back for the cubs.

In February, the vixen, during the day, will be buried down in the earth she has prepared.

If the presence of foxes is getting to be a problem, then there are ways to deter them from your property.

Just know that there’s no guarantee, so you may have to try different methods until you find one that is successful.

Here are a few ideas.

Make Your Property Less Attractive

  • Clear all food scraps and enclose all compost bins.
  • Cover standing water at night to prevent drinking.
  • Stop using fertilizers made from blood, bone, or fish.
  • Gather excess fruit and vegetables instead of leaving it on the plant.
  • Keep shoes and other small objects inside. Foxes like to use these as playthings.
  • Block access to enclosed spaces that foxes could turn into a den. Check first to make sure there are no animals already living there.

Repellent Options

Most commercial repellents are scent-based, which confuses the fox and prevents it from marking your land as its own territory. If you can't find a fox repellent, look for one targeted at dogs.

You may need to try a few repellents before you find one that works on your foxes.

  • Aluminum ammonium sulfate – A scent-based repellent
  • Methyl nonyl ketone – Also scent-based
  • Capsicum (pepper spray) – Extra-spicy taste; Typically less effective

What is capsicum? An herb that we famously know as chili pepper or red pepper.

Where to Apply the Repellent

Apply repellent strategically. Repellent usually can't discourage a fox when it's already next to the hen house or your prize vegetables.

Spray the repellent in the following locations instead, or mix it with sand and sawdust and sprinkle it.

  • Apply directly to scat, without removing it. Foxes leave scat in the open to mark territory and may return to the same spot if it is cleared. (If children play in the area, apply fox scat disinfectant as well to protect them from diseases.)
  • Apply to the soil above buried food, compost, or deceased pets that may be buried on your property.
  • Apply to suspected entry points on your land or along the tops of walls and fences.

RELATED: Beach Animals To Watch Out For When On Vacation

Consider Electric Fencing

This is one of the most effective ways to deter foxes. Foxes usually examine the fence before trying to climb or jump.

If they come into contact with an electric wire, the painful shock will usually discourage them from trying. Run three wires for best results: one at fox head height, one along the top, and one in the middle.

You'll also need an energizer that produces about 5,000–7,000 volts. The fox must make a connection between the electric wire and the ground to get a shock.

If your fence isn't grounded, run a ground wire about an inch (2.5 cm) apart from the middle and upper wires.

If there are hedgehogs in your area, the lowest electric wire should be at least 6 inches (15 cm) off the ground to prevent accidental death. Other small mammals are usually fine.

Electric fences are not recommended in areas with young children!

Other Repellents Options

  • Leave out bad-tasting food. A fox that has an unpleasant experience eating something in your yard may not want to visit again. Try leaving out food scraps covered in hot sauce or bittering agents.
  • Add male urine around the perimeter. You may use human urine or male predator urine from a garden store. This generally works best for deterring prey animals, not predators, but some people have reported success. As with any deterrent, results will vary based on individual foxes and how desirable your land appears.
  • Try commercial ‘scare’ products such as devices that squirt water when an animal approaches, ultrasonic devices that make a high-pitched noise, or devices that flashlight at the fox.

How To Protect and Secure Your Chicken Coop

Secure the floor. All types of foxes are excellent diggers and can tear or squeeze through relatively small holes.

Use one of these flooring designs to protect your animals.

  • Wooden floor: Use thick wood and place a layer of hardware cloth underneath it.
  • Dirt floor: Sink a wall of ½” (1.25cm) or smaller wire mesh or hardware cloth 12 in (30cm) deep around the perimeter. Extend the wall horizontally, 8–12 in (20–30cm) outward, so the fox can't dig underneath it.

Cover chicken wire and holes with hardware cloth. Foxes can chew through chicken wire.

Cover it with galvanized steel hardware cloth, or mesh with holes no larger than ½” (1.25cm). Check regularly for holes in the walls and floor, and cover these as well.

Secure with construction staples. Even a small hole could be torn to make a larger one or could be the entry point for a smaller predator.

Install multiple bolts. Foxes can operate a twist catch and other simple locks.

Use bolts instead, with a latch to secure them. Ideally, install two or more locks to protect your animals if one breaks or if someone makes a mistake while locking it.

Give birds a high roost. If you're protecting birds, give them a perch at the top of the coop to reach in times of danger.

This may not stop a fox indefinitely, but it could give you time to respond to a commotion.

Watch this video by Videojug on how to keep foxes from chickens:

How do you find these tips so far? You don't really have to kill a fox animal when it tries to intrude on your barn.

Simply take one of these methods, see what works for you then apply it in your home perimeter. Foxes are useful in the wild so it's nice to keep it that way.

If you have a fox repellent or deterrent tip that you would like to share, please tell us in the comment section below!


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How To Get Rid Of Foxes Without Killing Them In Winter |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 14, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

13 Responses to :
How To Get Rid Of Foxes Without Killing Them In Winter

  1. oldwestman says:

    A nice red spotlight and a good ,222 rifle does the trick for me. We have coyotes, fox, raccoons, skunks, and mink around our place, and a good .22 takes care of the smaller ones and the .222 is for the bigger ones. They eat our barn cats which we need to keep the rodent population in check. We also have Hawks and owls which I leave alone unless they get too close, then I just use fire crackers to scare them away. I don’t mind the deer because they eat the apples which keeps them off the grass that I have to cut and the apples make a mess going through the mower. We live about 1/4 mile from the local land fill which attracts all sorts of varmints year round.

  2. WRS says:

    I was actually prepared to leave a negative comment when I saw the ad for this post. So tired of “survivialists” thinking that killing small animals from a distance makes them tougher and more manly when so many of them are too frightened to sit on a rattlesnake den full of perfectly calm snakes with me while I’m shooting snake photos. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that your article took a rational approach to protecting your livestock without killing the animals that protect you from Hantavirus and Bubonic Plague by keeping rodents in check.

    1. WRS says:

      Hi Ricky — So cool to hear about you and your son! We have a cool snake development here as of a week ago — an artificial snake den (very small) that was built to house some rattlesnakes who can’t be released. Eventually there will (we hope…) be a live streaming web cam on it. I’ll try to come back and comment here to get your attention when it goes online. It’ll be a little while yet, The snakes just went in last week and getting them settled and adjusted is the first priority.

      Other things that kill more humans in a year than snakes and spiders:

      Vending machines falling over.
      Toddlers with guns (they shot 51 people in 2016, about half of them fatally!)

      1. Ricky Allen says:

        LOL you’re right, and there’s a lot more. I just listed bees and ants bc another thing in the wild the injects a venom like substance. If things that are not similar at all. Then I’d have to ask to ask if there’s room on the net for all of them. That’s really cool yes definitely keep me informed

  3. ernldo says:

    I encourage predators, and even feed them various dispatched rodents, that tend to do much damage on my humble abode if left unchecked….Foxes, Bobcats… yes, squirrels, chipmunks, moles, rats, mice…NO!

    1. Maxine Allin says:

      What about racoons n skunks??

      1. ernldo says:

        Not allowed…..

      2. Coons wiped out my neighbor’s chickens this past summer. We only run off foxes when they make dens in our dike for the pond, but we don’t kill them. If we do the damn squirrels take over the area.

  4. Mark Fern says:

    It depends on your situation. They can help in some and hurt in others. Take them out or relocate if you can. Simple!

  5. del57 says:

    Fox is one we leave alone. Not only do they help keep the ferel cat population in check (along with the Coyotes) but they do a great job on moles and voles. Haven’t had a problem with them and our chickens but understand that some do. Prefer to work with nature than against it when ever possible and only take them out when absolutely necessary…Raccoons are a different story and ours have gotten fairly destructive (on top of eating the pheasant eggs). Tried the live traps but you need to drive them about 50 miles to guarantee they won’t be back…a high powered, suppressed air rifle @ 22 cal or above will put them down humanly and not wake the neighbors…just make sure they’re in season or you could have legal issues. Hawks and owls are great neighbors if you’re not a fan of mice and they also do a pretty decent job of keeping rabbits out of the garden…on top of that it’s kinda fun to watch them hunt.

  6. Ricky Allen says:

    I love hunting period, but predator hunting is a blast. The way they come to the call (if they do) looking for you and downwind from you if they can. It’s more exciting then knowing Obama is packing his bags. Where I live in Georgia foxes especially like the red in the picture are being erased like a lot of our wildlife like rabbits,quail,wipporwills, most things that stay on the ground or roost low bc of coyotes. DNR is supposed to help protect wildlife, but they’re the ones that brought coyotes in in the early 90’s. Now they’re in every county in the state and they have no natural predators. They’re like a terminator. They’re a threat to basically every native animal from deer to rabbits to all in between. They’re life cycle goes something like this born, eat, breed, eat, breed, eat, breed, eat,breed, eat……. die. They kill foxes and bobcats and will raid their den if possible bc they’re predators too. That could get their food. So depending on where I’m hunting. I might kill a cpl foxes and a bobcat or 2, but I let most of them walk and focus on coyotes. I can’t fix the damage DNR has caused, but I can bust some caps and hear some yips then walk out of woods wishing I could find a good rabbit and quail population like i could when I was young.

  7. Baccarat says:

    Love wilde animals in Africa !

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