Can Foxes Simply be Relocated?
"There's a fox living in my garden and I don't want it there - can you come and get it and move it somewhere else?"
We get this request all the time, and the short answer is no. Relocating foxes isn't the simple solution it seems to be. No reputable rescue organisation will do it.
Foxes have their own territories, so moving a fox from one area to another means placing it into another foxes' territory. This will inevitably cause conflict and fighting that often results in the new fox being hounded, potentially chased out into roads and killed, or being displaced - wandering aimlessly with no place to call home.
Then there is the distress caused to a fox that finds itself suddenly dumped in an unfamiliar area. Any wildlife rescue volunteer or employee who has had to pursue a sick or injured fox knows how intimately they know their own territory. They will seem to suddenly vanish as they have every escape route and hidey hole mapped out in their memory within a certain mile radius. Placing a fox in a strange place means that it has no knowledge of nearby hazards, food sources, water sources, places to rest or spots suitable for making a den and will be competing for all of these resources with the foxes already settled in the area. It will struggle to survive.
All of the above potentially constitutes a breach of the Animal Welfare Act as it means causing considerable suffering and may result in the animal's death. Very, very rarely foxes can be relocated through a process called soft release, but this requires a special outdoor enclosure and isn't an option in the vast majority of cases.
Some pest controllers may offer "humane" trapping and relocation for foxes. If they are indeed relocating foxes, then this far from humane and likely not even technically legal. Often however, they simply reassure the person that has hired them that they will be relocating the trapped fox - then take it away and shoot it.
Finally, relocating foxes doesn't even work in a practical sense, because removing one fox creates a vacant territory. Within a few months to a year, another fox will likely move in to fill this territory, taking you back to square one and causing a whole lot of suffering to the previous vulpine occupant to achieve basically nothing.
If you really are encountering constant issues with a fox living in your garden or outdoor space, then there are ways of fox-proofing or deterring foxes which don't require removing them from their territory all together, or killing them. Fox-a-Gon and Humane Wildlife Solutions are two brilliant companies that offer genuinely humane fox deterrence.