Should You Keep Foxes Out Of Your Yard? Our Expert Provides Insight

Your yard is likely home to a variety of species that take shelter among the flora and fauna you have cultivated. If you've noticed foxes hanging around your outdoor space, you might be worried about their effect on your plants, or maybe the concern is for the safety of your family and any pets that also call the yard home. Foxes scavenge to find food, and they can often root around in neighborhoods to find their next meal or a place to take shelter. Sometimes, these omnivores might be passing through on a bigger conquest or journey, but other times they might have found refuge in or around your garden. So the first questions should be, what is the fox doing on your property, and should you be trying to keep them out?

Homeowners' opinions may vary on these furry visitors. Some people post videos showing off daily sightings of foxes who come to play in their yard, while others go to great lengths to prevent these animals from getting anywhere near. Charles van Rees, Ph.D., Conservation Scientist, Naturalist, and author of Gulo in Nature, has some great insights into this topic and can help alleviate individual concerns and queries over foxes hanging around their home.

Foxes aren't harmful

Foxes' habits vary depending on their natural phases, and Dr. van Rees explains that these mammals go through a dispersive phase which will see them moving around from place to place. He notes that the key to figuring out if you have a fox "issue" is to watch their habits before making any decisions or taking action. Foxes tend to "cover a lot of ground," according to Dr. van Rees, which means that "these animals will just be passing through on their way somewhere else," and it probably won't stick around. "Especially in late Winter, early Spring, or Fall, it's likely that this was just a fox that hit the road for greener pastures, and your backyard was on its route," explains Dr. van Rees.

On the other hand, "if you spot a fox repeatedly, your backyard may be part of that animal's home range or territory," which is "the total area that the animal uses during its lifetime for activities like finding food and water, sheltering at night or during the winter, finding mates, and making babies," states Dr. van Rees. Thankfully, "foxes pose virtually no risk to humans; they are shy, tiny, and generally very scared of people."

How to deter foxes from hanging out in your yard

Your yard may only be a small piece of a foxes range, but as a homeowner, you still might worry. "They may pose some threat to smaller cats, especially when they are foraging at night, and of course are not good to have around chickens," notes Dr. van Rees. "My best advice for what to do if you see a fox is to grab a pair of binoculars, hide somewhere with a good view, and watch its behavior." If you notice it coming back regularly, you might have an extra resident on your property. In this case, it is wise to keep pets inside during the early mornings and in the evenings when they tend to be most active.

Foxes are actually shy and fairly timid, though they can become curious about their surroundings. While they cause no harm, if you don't want them hanging around, Dr. van Rees says not to try and remove them yourself. "Deterring foxes is a better idea, and the best ways to do that involve removing whatever was attracting them to your yard," he explains. "If mice are an issue, look for food sources for the mice like bags of grain or messy birdfeeders and move them somewhere else. If the fox just keeps passing through on patrol duty, find out where it's entering the yard and see if you can block it off with something heavy, high, and/or difficult to climb."