Active fox den in backyard
The fox den in my yard was active several years ago. Since 2016, I blocked the hole that is in my yard (there are 2 other entrances I’m aware of not in my yard) and began mowing and disturbing the area, and the den wasn’t active in the past two years. This morning discovered a critter had dug around the blockage and there is a 7” hole with a great deal of disturbed soil around it. Since I have a small dog, I want to rid my yard of the foxes. What can I do to get them to leave? I can block the hole with chicken wire and boards but I’m not sure it will be sufficient. I would appreciate any advice you can give. Thank you!
Clinton County Michigan
It sounds like your first attempt (mowing and disturbing area) to get the foxes to leave was quite successful; after 2 years the fox pair (or even a different pair) may have just felt like trying their old den out again. There are several things you can try to encourage the fox to relocate. You can harass and scare the fox by placing different things around then den; covering the den with leaves/soil/mulch, placing urine soaked kitty litter, sweaty/smelly clothing near the den opening, mounting shiny balloons or flagging a few feet off the ground around the den are good ways to encourage a fox family to relocate. Basically anything that will make the fox understand that your backyard is not a safe place for it to raise its young.
There are also several commercial repellents available at hardware stores that may help. Most of these are designed to keep dogs out of gardens, but they should have the same effect on foxes. Coyotes are a major competitor of red foxes (and may be why this fox decided your backyard was a safer option than the wild); placing coyote urine around the den may be a good option too. Sometimes this is sold at hunting/trapping supply stores.
If you encounter the fox, make loud noises (e.g., banging a pot) and big gestures to scare the fox away. Again, the goal is to make your yard less "safe" for the fox to raise a family.
A wild and healthy red fox should be scared of humans and pets, so if the fox lacks this fear or tries to approach you or your pets, it may be time to contact your animal control agency. If the fox is healthy and wild (i.e., not fed by humans), the above mentioned methods will hopefully be all that is needed.
You can also bury an L-shaped footer around the base of your fence to prevent them from digging into your yard, but that may take a bit more effort and not possible this time of year. But may be a worthwhile preventative measure in the future.
Thanks for the detailed response! Very helpful. I already covered the hole and will try some other methods too.