Foxes, moles and mink: how to protect your property from damage
Find out how to solve a pest problem with foxes, moles and mink in order to protect your property or business.
For general advice about controlling pests, see Pest control on your property.
Any foxes, moles and mink that you catch are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. You can be jailed and fined up to £20,000 for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.
Illegal control methods
You must only use control methods set out in this guidance. Failure to do so could mean you face a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of up to £5,000.
You can’t use the following for foxes, moles or mink:
- self-locking snares
- bows and crossbows
- explosives other than legal ammunition for a licensed firearm
- live birds or animals, as bait or live decoys
To discourage foxes from coming to your property you should:
- secure food waste in bins
- use fencing to protect pets and livestock from foxes
If the problem persists you can use the control methods set out in this guide, but you must not:
- use gassing or poisoning
- block or destroy fox earths if they are occupied
Catch with cage traps and snares
You can use cage traps and snares to catch foxes.
You should check cage traps at least once a day to stop a captured fox suffering.
You shouldn’t relocate or release captured foxes. This will cause foxes stress by transporting and relocating them to an unfamiliar environment.
- only use free-running snares, which relax when the animal is captured
- check snares at least once a day
- humanely kill any fox you catch while it’s in the trap or snare
- release all other animals unharmed – except grey squirrels and mink, which you must humanely kill
You must not:
- place traps or snares near a badger sett or where badgers are present
- place snares in urban areas or public spaces
- use spring traps
You can shoot free foxes using a suitable firearm and ammunition.
You shouldn’t use firearms in urban areas for reasons of public safety.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has a code of practice on shooting foxes at night(lamping).
You can’t use dogs to hunt.
You can use dogs to stalk or flush out foxes above ground, but only to stop serious damage to your property. You must:
- use no more than 2 dogs
- shoot the foxes as soon as they break cover
- carry proof that you own the land or have written permission from the landowner
Use repellents or deterrents
You should only use repellents and deterrents approved for use against foxes.
The most effective time to control mole numbers is from October to April, when they are most actively digging new tunnels and before the breeding season.
Catch with traps
Traps should be placed at least 150mm below ground in the main tunnel of a mole run. You should check traps at least once a day. You can use spring traps, but you must:
- only use spring traps commonly used for catching moles
- humanely kill any live moles you catch
Control with gas
You should use someone trained in the use of gassing products if you choose this method of control. See the HSE information sheet: Gassing of rabbits and vertebrate pests for more information.
Control with repellents
There are no commercially available repellents approved for use against moles.
Catch with traps
Mink can be effectively trapped in the mating season (February to March) and when their young leave the den (August to November). You can use cage and spring traps, but you must:
- only use approved spring traps
- humanely kill all mink you catch
You should check traps at least once a day.
You can shoot free mink using a suitable firearm and ammunition.
Restrictions on the use of dogs are the same as for foxes (above).
Who to contact
Contact Natural England for advice on dealing with wildlife management.
Telephone 020 802 61089
Published: 1 June 2015
Updated: 27 September 2016
- changed "you must not relocate or release captured foxes" to "you shouldn't relocate or release captured foxes stress by transporting and relocating them to an unfamiliar environment".
- First published.