You need to know how to kill a fox that’s eating your chickens. If you don’t, you won’t have any chickens left in a few weeks.
Depending on the time of the year, you may have a fox den full of ravenous kits only 15 yards from your chicken coop. The vixen (female fox) will raise her family on your poultry until they are old enough to be raiding independently.
To kill a fox eating your chickens, you must first confirm it is a fox by examining the remains of carcasses left behind, scat or tracks around the kill site, or game cameras photos. Secondly, you must determine if a den is nearby. Lastly, select a method of removal appropriate for your location.
How to kill a fox: Identify what is taking your chickens.
Evidence of fox attacks on free-range chickens.
If your chickens free-range during the day, a fox will likely make their attack early in the morning or just before the chickens come back home to roost at dusk.
Your first clues a fox has attacked are:
- Just one chicken is missing.
- There is almost no evidence of a struggle.
- You only notice the missing bird after they have returned to the coop at night.
- You find some of your chickens have sought shelter by roosting in trees.
See them in the dark and catch them in the act!
Probably the cheapest, most reliable, and easiest to use night vision equipment I have ever bought are these night vision binoculars. If you want to see fox in the dark and shoot them, you can buy an infrared scope or thermal scope (pricey!)—and put it on a .22 or larger. I own, use, and recommend all three of these products and bought them from Amazon.
Evidence of a fox raid on a chicken coop.
If a fox attacked the chickens while they were in their coop, the evidence would look like this:
- Two or more chickens may be missing.
- Dead and injured birds will have visible neck and back injuries, wing damage, and/or broken legs.
- Waterers and feeders will be upended, and bloody feathers will litter the coop’s floor.
Using tracks and scat to confirm a fox is attacking your chickens.
What does fox poop look like?
Scat, feces, poop, or whatever you wish to call it, is like snowflakes; no two are alike. Therefore, determining who dumped (sorry) what on the ground can be difficult. The location, a few essential characteristics, and, if you are lucky, some tracks nearby should help you identify the animal, but there is often an element of uncertainty.
Fox poop size, shape, and color.
Fox poop averages two inches in length and a ½ inch in diameter. They are often loaded with hair, undigested insect parts, and seeds from berries and fruits. Fox scat is pointed at both ends and has an unusual odor. I’d call it putrid.
What do fox prints look like?
Fox paw prints are approximately 1.75 to 2.5 inches long by 1.5 to 2″ wide.
How to kill a fox: Use a game camera.
Today’s game cameras do more than take photos that you have to download manually. Now they snap a picture, text it directly to your phone, and let you know a fox is actually near your coop right now.
Modern, wireless trail cameras start at about $100. After you buy a suitable card, download the appropriate free app for your phone, and register the camera, you’re ready to mount it anywhere covered by cellular service. The app monitors battery life and signal strength and allows for various custom options like photo or video, picture-taking intervals, and even animal/human/vehicle detection settings.
Trespassers, both two and four-legged, usually never see or hear the black or camouflaged cameras reporting their intrusions. As a result, they fail to take evasive action, like fleeing. Instantly alerted, you can check the picture to confirm the intruder’s identity and use the extra time the alert gives you to make a decision.
I use SpyPoint cameras.
How to kill a fox: Make sure you get them all.
Foxes only spend time in their dens while raising their young. After the January to March breeding season, the vixen will produce an average of 4-5 kits. These kits will be raised inside their natal den until they reach about 12 weeks old. At that time, the kits will begin hunting with their parents.
Fox dens are where adults foxes raise their kits until they are about 12 weeks old. The eight-inch opening will be made in dry soil, have an apron of “spoil” (dirt removed to excavate the hole) in front of it, and its position will offer excellent visibility for the foxes from the entrance. Foxes do not sleep in their dens.
It would be best if you found any den that may be near your property. If you don’t, for the first three months of Spring, you may be the closest food source.
You can read a complete How to find a fox den here.
How to get rid of a fox den near your property.
Most fox are fully prepared to abandon an active den and move their kits, if an emergency arises.
If you find a den on your property, you can force its inhabitants to leave by placing fox repellent lights, powders/shavings, and noisemakers near the den’s entrance. Please check your local laws to determine the legality of this technique.
How to kill a fox: Is it legal?
Before you take any action against a fox harassing your flock, you need to check with your local game warden. While most states allow you to take (kill or trap) a fox that is destroying your property, not all of them allow it.
Where you may legally ”take” a fox, you must also determine the legality of the method you will use.
- Don’t use poisons. Even if legal, they do not target only the fox you are after.
- Shooting. You will need to find out if you may discharge a weapon where you live. Check with your local authorities to determine what weapons may be discharged and how far from any occupied buildings you have to be. Always follow all gun rules and safety tips. Make sure you have a safe backstop for any round you may discharge.
- Trapping. Trapping includes leg holds, snares, and cages. A properly selected and placed leg hold trap may be your safest and best option. Again, you will need to check with your local game warden to ascertain the legality of this method. What you do with the fox (kill or relocate) will also be a question for your game warden.
Shooting a fox in your yard.
In the video above, a female coyote suffering from mange makes a desperate effort to grab a duck or chicken from a farm. A few strategically placed SpyPoint cameras alerted the shooter.
You probably won’t be so lucky. The fox taking your chickens will move stealthily and quickly. It will dart in, grab a chicken, and be gone before you can even fetch a weapon. If you plan on killing a fox by shooting it, you need to have a plan.
How to kill a fox with a pellet gun, a ploy, and a plan.
Let’s be honest, a shotgun or rifle might be perfect, but what if you can’t use a heavy caliber weapon? Will a pellet gun kill a fox?
While a head shot with a .22 pellet will kill a fox at up to 20 meters, there are other ”air” options.
The Benjamin Armada is a .25 caliber pellet gun that can deliver accurate rounds that hit a quarter’s diameter up to 50 yards. At that range, a fox hit just behind the shoulders or in the head will be DRT (dead right there).
The benefit of using an air rifle is the noise it doesn’t make. For many .25 caliber air rifles, the sound of the shot from 25 yards away is about as loud as the closing of a car door. If you attach a red light to the scope and hunt at night, your neighbors will sleep the sound of your shot.
Speaking of shooting at night, here’s a shameless plug for my book.
I’ve got chickens and ducks too. And I have taken many foxes and coyotes who had evil intentions for my flocks.
The ploy you will use.
You have a head start over other predator hunters here. With missing chickens that you know were taken by a fox, there are foxes around. The next thing you need to do is get the fox to show up when you are armed and ready for it.
The easiest way to get a fox to show up is to mimic the sound of its prey. It would be best to have either a simple mouse squeaker or a rabbit squealer. No, you do not need an electronic caller; that’s spending $300 to save a $5 chicken.
Both of these tools take just a few minutes to master. Here’s a quick tutorial:
Once you have mastered using the call, it’s time for the last step.
On a day when the chickens have been left in their coop, you will find a nice concealed place and sit down about 50 yards away.
About a half-hour before dark (or before sunrise), make a few short calls with your squeaker. For about 20 minutes, put some emotion into the sounds you make. Try to sound like a scared or trapped mouse. After a minute of calling, go silent for 2-3 minutes. Keep scanning.
Hey, it’s called hunting—so there is an element of time and chance involved. But keep at it!
Related: Want to learn how to call a fox, read this article.
How to kill a fox: Trapping.
You can use three types of traps to catch a fox; cage, snare, and leg holds. I do not recommend you use snares. Snares, like poisons, often kill the wrong animal.
Cage traps. A cage trap is perfect if you intend to relocate and release the fox without harming it. The setup is so simple; it only takes three minutes to learn.
I recommend a cage trap for anyone in a populated area. Just be sure to check it at least once a day—eventually, you will catch one of your chickens in it. A cage trap can also be used with actively hunting with an air rifle.
You can check Amazon for current fox-sized cages here.
Related: Have you had a weasel get into your chicken coop? Learn how to prevent a second attack here.
Using and setting a leg hold trap.
I’ll be honest with here, this is a lot of work. If you have small pets, this may not be the right option for you, either.
There’s also a shopping list involved, and it can get pricey. You need lures, a trapping tool, a dirt sifter, and well, the list goes on. And to top it off, Amazon does not sell the actual traps. Those you will have to get from a trapping supply store.
Trapping is an art form. Leg hold trapping requires practice, a few sore fingers, lots of labor, and hours of time.
You can see how it is done below, but I recommend you try the cage trap first.
What if you can’t kill a fox that is eating your chickens?
Whether because of local laws or your own beliefs, you still have options if you can’t kill fox eating your chickens.
Use a professional removal service. Many local pest removal companies will gladly give you a quote over the phone.
You can turn your coop and free-range areas into a fortress. An electric fence won’t kill a fox, but it sure will keep them away from your chickens. For smaller sizes, they even make portable electric fences. With one of these, you can move your chicken’s free-range area around as needed—without all the digging and running of electrical wires.