When looking around the Internet at information related to foxes, it’s quite difficult to find exact information on legal protection that is afforded to foxes.
It’s fairly common to see discussion about generic ‘laws’ that protect foxes or actions that are ‘against the law’. But usually these discussions do not cover exactly which laws protect foxes and what actions are outlawed.
We felt it would be helpful to compile this list as a resource for people to see exactly how foxes are protected legally in the UK. This list will be in a constant state of revision as new laws are passed or more information comes to light.
Protection of Animals Act (1911)
• Placing poisoned baits with the specific intention of killing foxes is illegal.
• Trapped and/or captive animals must be treated and killed humanely.
Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981)
• Live baits and decoys are prohibited.
• Self-locking snares are prohibited.
• The use of bows or crossbows to kill foxes is prohibited.
Control of Pesticide Regulations (1986)
• Only products registered under these regulations are legally allowed to be used in gardens.
• The FoxWatch Ultrasonic Deterrent is a favourite among many to deter foxes as it relies on high-pitched sound rather than scent or chemicals to keep foxes out of the garden.
• Renardine is not permitted under these regulations.
• All fox repellent products included in our Top 10 Fox Repellents article are permitted to be used in deterring foxes.
(NOTE: The Agriculture Act (1947) permits gassing of fox dens in order to kill foxes, however as no gas-based products are currently registered under the Control of Pesticide Regulations (1986), in effect, gassing fox dens to kill foxes is illegal.)
Wild Mammals Protection Act (1996)
• Destroying, blocking, or filling up a fox earth that contains live foxes is an offence under this act.
Protection of Wild Mammals Scotland Act (2002) & The Hunting Act (2004)
• Hunting wild mammals (including foxes) with dogs in Scotland, England and Wales with dogs is illegal.
• Northern Ireland is not covered by these acts.
There are exceptions to the ban on hunting:
• Stalking and flushing out with up to two dogs, provided that the wild mammal is shot as soon as possible after it is flushed from cover;
• Using a single dog underground to flush out wild mammals in order to protect birds kept for shooting (the gamekeepers exemption)
• Using up to two dogs to search for an injured animal, provided that appropriate action is taken to relieve the animal of its suffering as soon as possible after it is found, and that it was not deliberately injured in order for it to be hunted under this exemption.
• The exemptions must also have the permission of the land owners or occupiers.
Animal Welfare Act (2006)
• Any snares that are placed must be checked once per day. Neglecting to do this could be considered an offence.
Information courtesy of NaturalEngland.org.uk