On not hunting foxes

A big dog fox ran across the lane, through a ragged hedge, and across a paddock where it was watched with an indifferent air by a group of horses. In the fading daylight, it was beginning a night’s activity. It appeared a young animal, a sleek coat and a full white-tipped brush. It was as unconcerned about a solitary person walking down the road as the horses were by it crossing their field. Have foxes found a detente with their human neighbours? Are they now living in a peaceful coexistence with people to the extent that the sight of a human being is no longer a cause for alarm?

The government website suggests there are liberal regulations applicable to anyone who feels there is a need to deal with foxes:

“To discourage foxes from coming to your property you should:

  • secure food waste in bins
  • use fencing to protect pets and livestock from foxes

If the problem persists you can use the control methods set out in this guide, but you must not:

  • use gassing or poisoning
  • block or destroy fox earths if they are occupied

Catch with cage traps and snares

You can use cage traps and snares to catch foxes.

You should check cage traps at least once a day to stop a captured fox suffering.

You shouldn’t relocate or release captured foxes. This will cause foxes stress by transporting and relocating them to an unfamiliar environment.

You must:

  • only use free-running snares, which relax when the animal is captured
  • check snares at least once a day
  • humanely kill any fox you catch while it’s in the trap or snare
  • release all other animals unharmed – except grey squirrels and mink, which you must humanely kill

You must not:

  • place traps or snares near a badger sett or where badgers are present
  • place snares in urban areas or public spaces
  • use spring traps


You can shoot free foxes using a suitable firearm and ammunition.

You shouldn’t use firearms in urban areas for reasons of public safety.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has a code of practice on shooting foxes at night(lamping).

Use dogs

You can’t use dogs to hunt.

You can use dogs to stalk or flush out foxes above ground, but only to stop serious damage to your property. You must:

  • use no more than 2 dogs
  • shoot the foxes as soon as they break cover
  • carry proof that you own the land or have written permission from the landowner

Use repellents or deterrents

You should only use repellents and deterrents approved for use against foxes.”

No-one could complain at a shortage of options. A trapper I once knew, now long dead, would be delighted that the cage traps he used, to ensure that pelts were not damaged, now have an official seal of approval.

Despite the brazen conduct of the foxes and the options available to deal with them, the sound of shotguns is now rare and it is a long time since I heard of a trapper. Have foxes evolved? Have they learned ways of living in s human world that mean they are able to avoid the threat of violence? Will the sight of a big dog fox crossing the road become as unremarkable as seeing a tabby cat crossing?

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One Response to On not hunting foxes

  1. Vince says:

    Very few have active farmyards like in the old days. When driving into a farm did you meet hens, geese, ducks what-have-ya in a general way like before. You might see a peacock/hen. But even those fancies are a thing of the past. And because of that the fox really doesn’t impinge in a hostile way with the human. Indeed they are an apex predator and will keep down infestations. So on the whole they are a good for the average farmer and a pretty glimpse of wildlife for those living simply in the countryside.
    I will say this. Once I would’ve been a bit of an unthinking idiot. I never really thought the of the Hunt in it’s essential meaning. To use a Sartreism, être-en-soi. What is it they were doing, really.
    On the face of it you have a benign bunch of fairly unattractive usually wealthy people squeaking and squawking at each other. But what they are is the Militia in direct descent. The red coat is a Red Coat. And the fox is a proxy for some local that has transgressed. They have their cousins in slave states hunting down runaway men and women. So to my mind it’s 100 years past the time they disappeared off the landscape.

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