RALEIGH, N.C. -- With fox pup-rearing season peaking, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is getting multiple calls from concerned homeowners who are seeing foxes in their yard.
It's illegal to relocate foxes in North Carolina - in part to prevent the unintentional spread of diseases - so wildlife officials have a few non-lethal tips to help you keep the foxes away from your home.
- Never feed foxes; doing so encourages them for coming near humans.
- Feed your pets indoors or remove all food and dishes when your pet is finished eating outside.
- Secure garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and take them out the morning of pick-up, rather than the night before.
- Clear fallen fruit from around trees.
- Keep bird-feeder areas clean and use bird feeders that keep seed off the ground.
- Close off crawl spaces under sheds, porches, decks, and homes.
Biologist Mikayla Seamster says foxes usually have a back-up den in case something happens to the first one. If you have a fox den near your home, she recommends doing the following to get the foxes to leave on their own:
- Play a radio on a talk show station, which mimics human presence, 24/7, until the foxes are gone.
- Ammonia-soaked towels or rags, which acts as a smell deterrent. Place the rags close to the den site, so the smell can permeate the area.
- Bang pots, yell, or use other noise-making devices to scare away the fox.
But not everyone wants to scare away the foxes. In this case, NC Wildlife says stay away from the den site, leave the pups alone, walk pets on a leash, and teach children to enjoy wildlife from a safe distance. Foxes only use a den while raising their pups, so once the pups are old enough to fend for themselves, usually by mid to late summer, they will abandon the den and move on.
North Carolina is home to two species of foxes: the red fox and the gray fox. The gray fox is the state's only native fox; red foxes were originally imported from Europe. They are both fairly small, standing between 12 to 16 inches high at the shoulder and weighing between 7-15 pounds.
For more information on foxes, you can read the Commission's "Coexisting with Foxes" handout.
Call the Commission's N.C. Wildlife Helpline toll-free at 866-318-2401 if you have a problem with a fox in your area. You can also call your local Animal Control office if the fox shows signs of being rabid.