CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing these photos on a mobile device
DEAR JOAN: We have a fox family of four that has moved into our yard. We’ve enjoyed watching them for a couple of weeks, but my husband is tired of cleaning up their waste and filling the holes they dig.
Any ideas on how we can make them less comfortable in their new digs? I’ll be sorry to see them go, but can understand his frustrations.
C.K., Bay Area
DEAR C.K.: I, too, can understand your husband’s frustration, and encouraging the foxes to move elsewhere will be better for them, too.
Before doing anything, make sure the kits are old enough to travel. Although they will stay with their parents for seven to nine months, depending on the type of fox, the kits are usually old enough to travel at 9 weeks. If they’re out and starting to hunt with their parents, they are old enough. If not, give it a few more weeks.
The foxes are there because they have found at least one of three things they need — shelter, food or water. Take a good look at your yard and remove things that are attracting and supporting them. Don’t leave pet food out. Remove fallen fruit and harvest as much as you can. Empty birdbaths and remove drinking stations for pets.
Once you’ve taken care of the food and water, hunt for the den. It might be beneath a deck, house or shed, or inside a pile of wood or shrubs. When you’ve found it, pile some straw or cloth that has been soaked in an animal repellent in the entrance. Pile it high, but don’t block the entrance completely.
Keep an eye on the area and refresh the repellent every day. This should convince the foxes to move on. Once they do, you can safely block the area to prevent their return.
If there is no den on your property and instead the foxes just visit regularly, you’ll need to find where they are coming in and block it off. You also should put down a generous amount of repellent in that area.
You can try annoying them by making lots of noise, banging on pots and using an air horn. At night, you can leave a radio, tuned to a talk-radio station, playing. Installing motion-activated lights or sprinklers also can help send the message that they aren’t welcome here.
The parents, and sometimes the female offspring, will often return to their den the next mating season, so sometime this winter you might want to look at improving your fencing.
DEAR JOAN: During the summer, I enjoy seeing and feeding the orioles. There were quite a few this summer, more males then females. The orioles usually head back to Mexico about Sept. 1, but this year they left the first week of August.
Do you think the fires up north caused them to leave early? Or something else?
Mary Rowlands, San Jose
DEAR MARY: We’re still waiting to see what sort of impact the recent fires, as well as those from last year, will have on wildlife, but I don’t think they would make the orioles around here leave early. With climate change, a lot of migration routines are changing and the orioles appear to be arriving and leaving earlier each year.
Out-foxing the foxes. How do you get them to leave the yard?