Wild Animals/wild foxes

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Oroville, CA - Fox
Oroville, CA - Fox  

Oroville, CA - Fox
Oroville, CA - Fox  
I live in the country on 6 1/2 acres with more property surrounding mine. There are several foxes that live either on or near my property. They are beautiful, seem larger than the supposed maximum (close in size to my Australian Cattle Dogs) and not too fearful. I have seen them very close to my house and they seem to mark with feces up on things all the way around my house. One actually laid down in the grass and observed us from around 20-30 feet away, while we were out in the yard. On one of my walkabouts I pretty much stumbled across one hiding in the grass and was only a few feet from me. It did not run away, just stared at me. I love seeing them and get excited when they come around. However, some of my friends and relatives are warning me that they are dangerous and will attack. They have killed a couple of my chickens, which I feel is to be expected, but should I be concerned about my safety or the safety of my dogs? I am wondering if I should discourage them from coming close. Is there some way to get them a rabies vaccine so they don't get sick and infect me or my dogs? I would be very disappointed to have to shoo them away or have them relocated. Is it possible to be able to co-exist with them peacefully? I appreciate any advice and insight you have on this matter.

Answer
Dear Erin

Thank you for your question and photos. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_of_California#Carnivorans includes a list of carnivores found in California. The photos show a grey fox.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Fox)does not list chickens among the major items of prey in the grey fox in California, but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u6-0nDjOjk shows a grey fox eating chicken.

http://icwdm.org/handbook/carnivor/foxes.asp says that there have been outbreaks of rabies among red foxes in Canada and the eastern USA and gives advice about how to prevent damage from foxes. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Urocyon_cinereoargenteus/ says that grey foxes carry rabies and other zoonotic diseases that could be threaten the health of people, while they can carry tularemia and canine distemper, which affect domestic dogs.
http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Trapping/Documents/coexistfoxes.pdf and ww.humanesociety.org/animals/foxes/tips/solving_problems_with_foxes.html include additional advice. You can view the foxes from a distance, but at the moment you don't seem to have any problems, apart from making your chickens more secure. http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/726643/how-do-foxes-get-chickens gives advice about how to protect your chickens.

I have seen a red fox outside the tower block I live in, but I haven't heard about any complaints from neighbours. There have been reports of red foxes entering buildings and attacking people in London, but while such reports seem to be increasing, they are not high.

I hope this helps

All the best

Jonathan

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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