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Red fox is trapped in my hay loft

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  • Red fox is trapped in my hay loft

    I went out yesterday just before the game to do chores and found a red fox in the barn after my chickens. He left and headed for the woods so I caught all the chickens and locked them in the horse trailer for now, just in case.

    Went out about 10 p.m. to see if he had come back, and sure enough he was there. Curled up in a ball asleep in the hay stall on top of a hay bale. He stood up and stretched and yawned like he lives there. I tried to get the two barn doors shut before he got out but he trotted past me and went out the back. I was able to herd him around the side of the barn and he went into the open hay loft (barn is built on the side of hill.)

    I closed everything securely and so now there he sits in the hay loft.

    He is mangey though not terribly so, which would explain why he's not afraid of humans. He seems to want to stay in the barn.

    I left a message for a wildlife control guy in Green Bay but Wisconsin is getting an awfully slow start this morning.

    What's the chance this guy will be able to trap, rehab and relocate? Or will he likely want to shoot and kill? I would prefer he be treated and released somewhere at a habitat but I don't know much about that. Not sure if that's the common protocol or not?

  • #2
    If it were me, I would let him go and consider it my job to protect the chickens from predators (by means other than killing). Around here, we train the chickens to go into a coop at night. Foxes and coyotes have disappeared from around here, because the farmers and ranchers were unable to tolerate them. Now there is nothing to control the feral cats, which are a huge problem along with racoons, which are way more dangerous to chickens.

    If you really can't stand the thought of him, trap him yourself with a have-a-heart. Why be so helpless! If you are going to live in the country, a have-a-heart should be standard equipment. That, and a gun for suffering wildlife. Let him go, or trap him and relocate him. If he is rabid or suffering, shot him or if you can't handle that, then call animal control. I would not rely on animal control other than that. They will probably kill him, keep him trapped for hours, or something else cruel.
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


    • #3
      If the fox is mangy, it probably needs to be treated. You said you contacted a wildlife control person. Is this someone who deals with wildlife as pests, or a rehabber? If you can google a wildlife rehabber in your area, the fox needs to be taken in and treated (usually using ivermectin- something you might could do yourself). The fact that he's in your hayloft makes the situation 10x easier since he's already in an enclosed area.

      A note about trapping and relocating- it's a popular option aside from shooting, but it's actually ineffective and inhumane from a biological standpoint. Each local ecological niche has a certain loading capacity for each predator and prey species. And each individual of each species already has its own territory set up and knows where to find food, water, and shelter. When you move an individual, though it depends on the species, their survival rate drops significantly. It may seem as though woods are woods, fields are fields, etc. but that animal has to learn (quickly!) where the food is most easily found, where the water is, and where to find shelter. Then, on top of that, compete with individuals who already live there and have their own territories!

      Kind of like if you live in a big city and got dropped off in another big city with no map or information on where things are located. They're both cities, right? Except one's familiar and one isn't.
      Roo & Lulu


      • #4
        Let it OUT of your barn, but keep your distance. If it is "friendly", and acting the way you describe, rabies is a serious possibility.

        5 years ago, we had a "friendly" fox ranging around the farm. The fox was mangy, out in the daylight, not afraid of me when I drove near it (Yes, I threw a hot dog shot up with ivermectin to it), but it wasn't interested. Turns out it was rabid, as well as mangy. The County Sheriff and AC came out looking for it, as they had other reports, and killed it. I wasn't so informed back then about fox behavior (pre-foxhunting) but your fox isn't acting right.

        The mange alone is problematic-- if you have dogs they can catch it from things the fox has rubbed on or brushed against. Sarcoptic mange in a dog moves fast and can be deadly. We almost lost our Golden to it 4 years ago.

        Please be safe! I know it's hard not to want to save the fox, but you need to think of yourself and the safety of your other animals first and foremost.


        • Original Poster

          Well this all took place (catching him in the loft) very late last night and I had to be up by 5 a.m. to get chores done and get to work so I haven't had a lot of time to do any research. There is cat food and water in the loft which was already there for the cats. The cats are downstairs and I put out new bowls for them. So he's ok for now, he's not suffering in that regard. I don't know if he'll eat the cat food or not (probably not) but at least he does have water and protection from the weather. I do not want to see him killed if there is any way to avoid it.

          I do own a Have-A-Hart but it is for smaller animals. This morning I read online that it can be almost impossible to catch a fox in a live/box type trap anyway. Apparently nooses and padded jaw traps are more reliable, but I have no first-hand experience with trapping a fox. In all the years we've been on this farm we have never seen one up close to the barn.

          The mange seems mild, not severe. His tail is bald but the rest of his fur is mostly intact.

          The chickens stay in a horse stall at night (they have a roost pole there) but during the day they free range. We have had trouble with hawks in years past but no problems recently. We have not had any other kind of predators come into the barn to get chickens so this was a first. We have 3 big dogs and their presence is enough to keep wild animals away.

          We did have skunks move in the barn one winter but that was short lived and have had no problems in the last 3 or so years. They never bothered chickens or eggs.

          Yes I agree this fox isn't acting right and that's why I've contacted a professional. I was just curious for the experiences of others.


          • #6
            contact a wildlife rehabber.
            save lives...spay/neuter/geld


            • #7
              Yes, dogs may deter a fox, but a smart, healthy fox can elude dogs easily. Foxhunting anyone?

              So the fox is still in the barn? I would count kitties and chickens when I got home if I were you. Both are considered snacks by foxes!


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by fivehorses View Post
                contact a wildlife rehabber.
                I have left messages at 4 different places.

                Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
                Yes, dogs may deter a fox, but a smart, healthy fox can elude dogs easily. Foxhunting anyone?
                Well, this is the first we've seen a fox (close to the barns like this) in the 16 or whatever years we've been here. We have seen them in neighboring farmer's fields but have not had one come up close before.

                So the fox is still in the barn? I would count kitties and chickens when I got home if I were you. Both are considered snacks by foxes!
                Chickens are locked in the shed in the horse trailer. Even if he were to get out of the loft, he could not get to the chickens. Cats are locked in the feed room downstairs. He can't get in there either.
                Last edited by Auventera Two; Feb. 7, 2011, 11:55 AM. Reason: added clarification


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
                  The mange alone is problematic-- if you have dogs they can catch it from things the fox has rubbed on or brushed against. Sarcoptic mange in a dog moves fast and can be deadly. We almost lost our Golden to it 4 years ago.


                  We had the same situation years ago. Older looking fox, mangy, out in daylight (actually laid down on the grass and watched me painting the fence.) Poor thing died that night in my barn. Had laid down right outside a stall and just went to sleep.

                  Anyway, fast forward several months (actually, Sept. to spring). Our Golden Retriever was developing little sores and itchies so off to the vet we went. Verdict - MANGE! Vet asked me about wildlife in area. I told her about the mangy fox from last fall. YUP - that was it she said. Fox had been in our ring last fall and dog was running around out there recently. My vet said that the mange organisms, or whatever they are, can actually survive in the dirt through winter's freezing temps and re-activate in the spring warmth. So that appears to be exactly what happened here.

                  So, not only did the Golden have to spend a day a the vet's getting dipped, but I had to bring in our other 3 dogs to get the same treatment as a preventive since they were all exposed. But at least that was the end of the mange (we just kept the dogs away from the area where the fox had been to insure no more mange surprises).


                  • #10
                    Claddagh-- So glad your Golden was ok! It was horrible how fast the mange spread on our girl. You could almost see it move across the poor dog. She also developed a secondary staph infection due to the nature of the effect the mange has on hair shafts. Essentially, they shatter and cause lesions within which bacteria easily enters. It was touch and go for 2 days with her.

                    Glad you have the other animals safely put away from the fox. Are there any horses in the barn right now?

                    I saw you've called a few rehabbers, but are there any foxhunting clubs in the area? They are usually good resources for information. At the very least, and if necessary, they could probably kill it quickly and humanely.


                    • #11
                      So glad that your girl survived her mange experience too, TimelyImpulse. Yours was definitely far worse than ours.

                      And this was several years ago for us. No one else caught mange from that episode. Thankfully, none of the horses caught it. Either they didn't roll in the same spots where the fox had been or their turnout sheets provided a barrier, or we were just plain lucky!

                      We've never had another mange problem although we do still have foxes (just not mangy ones I guess). And I hope it stays that way!


                      • #12
                        I'm sure you will all get a huge laugh out of this but I'll tell you how I handle animal issues here on the farm. Not foxes, we don't have many of those, raccoons are our problem animal.

                        Because I know relocating often ends badly for the relocated animal, I instead, try to scare them so they feel "around the buildings" is a BAD place to be.

                        I live trap the raccoons, make sure they are healthy, then take them for a drive in the country . In the cage, in the back of a noisy Rhino, up and down hills, round and round the hay fields, finally letting them go still in their own territory. It seems to work. Every summer we get a couple young coons making a nuisance of themselves. I catch them, take them for a drive, then they must tell their friends about the crazy lady because no more visiting raccoons .

                        I'm sure with a little imagination you can figure out a way to scare foxes as well so they stay away. As an aside the foxes here are terrified of anything human because they are killed on sight by the guys who think they eat too many game birds.
                        Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NoDQhere View Post
                          I live trap the raccoons, make sure they are healthy, then take them for a drive in the country . In the cage, in the back of a noisy Rhino, up and down hills, round and round the hay fields, finally letting them go still in their own territory. It seems to work. Every summer we get a couple young coons making a nuisance of themselves. I catch them, take them for a drive, then they must tell their friends about the crazy lady because no more visiting raccoons . ...
                          I love it!!!


                          • Original Poster

                            LOL too funny NoDQ! I used a similar tactic to scare the skunks off. I located the spots they were coming in and burrowing in and set up flood lamps and radios blasting the heavy metal rock stations. That coupled with a healthy dose of moth balls and dryer sheets and they figured out that the barn wasn't their idea of a weekend getaway.

                            Well, one rehabber called back and said they just don't like to rehab mangey foxes. He said that once they are acting this unusual (not afraid of humans, out hunting in the broad daylight, coming into buildings despite dogs, etc.) they are too far gone to try to help. He charges $400 to come out and shoot the fox and dispose. He said he doesn't know of a single rehabber in the area that would likely take the fox in.

                            I called 2 guys I know to see if somebody can come and shoot. I feel terrible but it's probably the best thing.


                            • #15
                              Yeah don't feel bad - I think you would be doing him a favor. Otherwise he will die a slow death in this weather. . .


                              • #16
                                Seeing a fox during the daytime is not an indication of rabies or anything else...they are diurnal, not noctural...otherwise foxhunters would all be riding out in the dark!

                                Like most predators, they may be most active at dawn and at disk, when hunting is best, but seeing them out in the daytime is not a danger sign.

                                Most "wildlife" contractors will trap & kill wild animals, there are often restrictions in place that prevent relocation of wildlife.

                                We've had a gray fox around our barn frequently, but fortunately do not have chickens. They've not bothered the cats, they seem content to snack on mice and rabbits.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by TimelyImpulse View Post
                                  Let it OUT of your barn, but keep your distance. If it is "friendly", and acting the way you describe, rabies is a serious possibility.
                                  For sure. I would NOT mess with it, especially trying to catch it on my own. If a rehabber isn't available, then the DNR/wildlife services will come and take care of it. If it ends poorly for the fox, then so be it. I'd rather that then it ending poorly for YOU, children/spouse/other people, horses, chickens, dogs, barn cats, what have you.


                                  • #18
                                    Sometimes the kindest thing to do to a sick animal is put it out of its misery. If you have not already contacted your local DNR office I would contact them. There is no way it should cost $400 to dispose of this animal.


                                    • #19
                                      NoDQhere, I'm guessing you don't get asked to carpool the kiddies to school often


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by Chall View Post
                                        NoDQhere, I'm guessing you don't get asked to carpool the kiddies to school often