Foxes & People
Economic Factors
Pest Control

Due to their history of raiding chicken coups, and their taking of ducks and other small farm animals, foxes have frequently been regarded as vermin. In some cases, foxes have been mistakenly accused of killing lambs and calves while they attempted to scavenge their afterbirths. As a result, many have been shot, poisoned, or trapped over the years. Even today foxes are sometimes persecuted in an attempt to preserve various game birds and animals for hunting. While it is true that foxes can wreak havoc among unaccustomed bird populations, no conclusive evidence has been found to suggest that a reduction in fox population will increase the respective bird populations. One region of the world where the control of foxes is truly warranted is Australia. Many schemes have been implemented in the past to reduce the ecological damage done by these animals on that continent, but with little effect. One of the most recent and promising developments is the sterilization of foxes using a genetically manipulated virus.

More than anything else, most farmers now welcome the sight of foxes on their land. A fox can be beneficial to agriculture by eating crop destroying vermin such as mice, voles, rats, and rabbits. Ranchers also benefit from a reduction in gopher population, which reduces the incidences of cattle injuring themselves in gopher holes. These benefits generally outweigh the occasional chicken a fox might steal, especially when appropriate measures are taken to safeguard the flock. Enlightened to the potential advantages of having foxes around, most farmers are now content to leave them alone, so long as individual animals don´t present a problem.

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