Even though this predator can cause great nuisance by plundering poultry or small game from a hunting ground, we have to keep in mind that the fox belongs in our nature and that it fulfils an important role there. The fact is that foxes help to naturally regulate the populations of e.g. small rodents, rabbits and birds.
The restoration of the fox population these last years is rather good than bad news, because predators can only survive if they have food. They live of the growth of their preys’ population and their numbers are tuned to it. This is a necessity because if they decrease the spring status of their preys’ population, this automatically means the restriction of their own means of existence. Therefore, the number of prey animals is restrictive for the number of predators.
We have to be aware of the presence of the fox and take the necessary precautions for it. It is after all an omnivore which means that poultry can be on its menu. Chickens and ducks can fall prey to the fox if their poultry house is not sufficiently guarded.
The only way to avoid these unpleasant visits, is building a fully closed off poultry house or a solid fence, as shown on the photo. Given that a fox is limber as a cat, it is important that the fence is two meters high and that it has some extra barbed wire at 1 meter. Moreover you have to bury in 50 centimetres of thread slantwise and outwards or to put up a border of concrete bollards so that the fox can’t dig a tunnel under the fence. The henhouse on the photo has been tested in the most densely fox-populated area of Flanders. There were fox spoors around the henhouse daily, but never a fox succeeded in entering it.
Another solution is feeding the poultry at night in a solid night house. If you scatter feed in this night house at night, and you place some roosts higher up, it is generally fairly simple to lure the chickens into the night house.
As soon as all the chickens are inside, the night house has to be locked up until the next morning. Ducks that dispose of a sufficiently large pond can put themselves to safety on the water.
The fox is often labelled as a ‘murderous’ animal, when e.g. it kills a lot of chickens in the henhouse without eating them or taking them with it. People have difficulties understanding such a seemingly meaningless slaughter. However, this behaviour that is called ‘surplus killing’ has nothing to do with a bloodthirsty nature, but is instinctive survival behaviour. When a predator is confronted with numerous panicky preys that can’t run away (as in a henhouse), its predator instinct is stimulated and it can kill all animals within its reach. Such situations do not occur in the wild, because as soon as one or at best a few animals are caught, all the others run away. The presence of a dog on the premises can scare off foxes. It is useless to kill or capture foxes. As long as the poultry simply continues to scratch about as ‘bait’, new predators will always be attracted again.