Nevada is home to three species of foxes, the Red Fox, Kit Fox, and Gray Fox. Typically, foxes avoid people, but occasionally you may spot them making use of our urban parks, golf courses, and developed areas where resources are readily available.
A fox’s diet primarily consists of rabbits, rats, birds, and small mammals, but when certain fruits are abundant, they will not hesitate to go vegetarian. Do you have any of these food sources in your neighborhood or backyard? If so, you may have an encounter with a fox. Most encounters with foxes are fleeting and even provide an excellent (and free) rodent control service, but if they get comfortable in your habitat, they may begin to consider it their habitat. When this happens, the concerns tend not to surround the safety of ourselves and our pets (their small size and passive behavior deem them a low threat), but rather surround the condition of our property. We may find excessive feces in our yards, and even notice chewed-up furniture (question your neighbor’s dog first on this one). So what can we do to live responsibly alongside foxes?
How do I keep foxes away from my yard?
Living in a desert can be difficult for wildlife. They must work hard to find food, water, and shelter. If they come across a habitat that has plentiful grass, easy access to water (sprinkler systems), and protective cover (shrubs, trees, undisturbed structures), it’s a desirable place to stay. There are some ways we can minimize some of this desirable habitat in our own yards.
- First and foremost, don’t feed them and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Providing food makes wild animals dependent on us, and they often lose their natural fear of humans.
- Remove anything that might be attracting the foxes or their food sources. This can include birdseed, pet food, trash or compost, water features, fallen fruit, excess shrubs, woodpiles, decks, or other structures that can provide cover or a place to den.
- Clean up pet food after feeding domestic animals
- Cover garbage cans with a well-fitting lid
- Discard food waste in the garbage and not on the ground or in the desert
- Harvest fruit trees readily – period removed
- Keep in mind that if you are feeding other wildlife — birds, rabbits, etc — you are feeding foxes
- Install devices to scare them away.
- Motion-activated lights, noisemakers, and/or sprinklers are a great place to start!
- Modify the habitat
- Eliminate hiding places for prey species by trimming or clearing vegetation – period removed
- Eliminate hiding places for coyotes, foxes, and other predators by trimming or clearing vegetation
- Clear junk piles and wood
- Remove excess shrubs, woodpiles, decks, or other structures that can provide cover or a place to den – period removed
- NEVER allow a fox to become comfortable around your home, every time you see a fox scare it away!
I’m worried about my pets. What should I do?
- they are more concerned with eating the rabbit and rodent population over anything larger – period removed
- Always leash or supervise your pets while outside – although they may not be at risk of becoming prey to a fox, if they get too close to, or threaten a fox’s young, the fox will put up defenses. Keep in mind that other predatory animals share habitat with foxes, so you should always take steps to secure your pet and prevent wildlife conflict – period removed
- If you have smaller animals like rabbits, chickens, or birds, make sure that if they are outside, they are in a fully secure enclosure with a roof – period removed
What should I do if I see a fox in the neighborhood?
The best and most effective method of keeping foxes out of neighborhoods is through the act of hazing. Foxes can become habituated to humans quite easily. When we simply ignore that they’re there, or don’t respond to them in a negative way, they slowly start to lose their fear response when they see us. Sometimes it can take several hazing attempts for a fox to relearn that fear response, especially if they’re still faced with frequent encounters by humans that don’t haze them. A community effort must be made to make these foxes feel as uncomfortable as possible in our neighborhoods to encourage them to leave on their own. Changing up the methods of hazing is a good way to ensure that they don’t become desensitized to one particular method:
- Haze them but don’t corner them
- A garden hose works wonders
- Use a sound-making device like a referee’s whistle or a horn-in-a-can product
- Holler at them while waving your arms and making yourself appear to be as large as possible – period removed
- Give them room to escape
- Be persistent and continue to do so until they have left your sight – period removed
It’s important to keep in mind, foxes, like much of our wildlife, can become used to these tactics so varying your methods of scaring them away is important!
I am worried about my safety, will a fox attack me?
Statistically, stubbing your toe is far more dangerous to humans than foxes. By taking the above precautions you will help limit conflicts that may arise in your neighborhood. If an incident with a human does occur, please call 911 or our dispatch at 775-688-1331 immediately.
Will the department come and remove/relocate the foxes in my neighborhood?
In short, removal of foxes is not a long-term solution. If there is habitat in your neighborhood, foxes will be in the area. Even if every single fox was removed, more would quickly come into the area (who doesn’t want to live near a nice golf course?). Foxes are very territorial and dependent on their home ranges. After being relocated, they will do just about anything to get back home where they are familiar with the resources (this includes crossing roadways, exposure to elements, lack of food and water) – dangerous for the animal, and counter-effective for the neighborhood. If they stay, the new, unfamiliar territory is almost guaranteed to be a currently occupied territory for other foxes or coyotes, who will aggressively and fatally defend against intruders. The best, and most effective way of keeping foxes out of our neighborhoods is to keep the resources low (reduce attractants), and the threats high (haze).
If there is a significant public safety risk, please reach out to us, however, we do not remove foxes for being sighted in neighborhoods or attacking free-roaming cats and dogs. With that in mind, please make sure to secure your pets and haze away foxes when seen.