Fox Vs. Fowl, Battle Royale


In the Brooder
Nov 23, 2015
So. Illinois
A few hours ago, I was disturbed from my evening routine by a terrible battle in backyard. It was after dusk, and the hens should have been settled down. Ran outside as fast as I could to find the coop open and two hens perched atop of it. Two out of seven. Noticed an immediate musky odor, and knew what it had to be. Telltale digging marks confirmed my suspicions. Eventually found the remaining hens, frightened, some slightly injured (save for my rooster of questionable courage, who managed to show up without a scratch, from the opposite direction of the rest of the flock). All except for one, who happened to be my FAVORITE HEN, FRIENDLIEST HEN IN THE UNIVERSE. Will search for carcass tomorrow, for now plotting revenge.

I figured traps would be the best option; property is only a few acres, with a subdivision in the back, precluding the safe operation of firearms. And I do not trust my skills with the bow for such a small target.

So here are some questions that I hope someone here will be able to answer:

1. What legal issues could I potentially face in the state of Illinois for operating a trap (rubber jaw leg trap with a diameter of only a few inches) on my own property to take care of a nuisance animal?

2. What bait works best for a leg trap (I've read wet cat food, or meat can do the trick, not willing to use another chicken)?

3. Is there a way to keep deer away from the trap (they've been crossing the property like yard hamsters all month)?

4. What do I do with the critter/varmint after capturing it (fine with killing, just don't want to run into any legal issues)?

5. How can I properly shame my rooster for running away like Sir Robin of Camelot?

Thanks, traps should be here in about a week, will be doing research on my own as well, but would like the insight of the knowledgeable members of this forum, particularly those who have experience de-foxing their property.
Why not try to predator proof you coop or take preventative measures? It's just such a hassle to have to deal with trapping and keeping up with the rapidly changing laws. I use nite guard predator eyes and automatic motion-activated sprinklers to deter foxes. Electric fencing works wonders too.
The coop is pretty secure, I stupidly assumed someone else had secured the coop without confirming it, and the vixen had a free pass to the inside of the coop after she dug under the pen. But my main issue is that this fox (fairly sure it is a vixen) has been casing repeatedly for the past week or so. I have spotted her eye-shine every other night near the coop before she gets spooked and slinks away. Also we have a barn cat that is pretty savvy, but might make a meal for a desperate vixen, especially if she's expecting kits. And also kinda keen on the whole vengeance part (still not finished with Moby Dick, vengeance against animals is a good idea, right?).

EDIT: I'll look into those products, especially so I don't have a repeat of this disaster, thanks for the suggestions.
Last edited:
Well, I suppose if you are so excited about's just that you must understand, it's an animal that needs to eat as well. She did not understand that they were "your chickens" nor that she shouldn't be eating them. I would take preventative measures all around the barn, coop, and wherever the cat lives to keep it safe. It is a little silly to think of killing an animal as revenge. They do not understand these concepts, and killing the vixen will not bring back your hens. There is no need to cause more death and strife. Believe me, electric fencing is very helpful, especially in your situation. Please consider it. You may think of surrounding your whole property with it...
Anything can get into the traps from deer to cats or kids.
And that rooster was smart enough to run...can't blame him for that. It's the roosters job to alert the chickens, he wasn't made to fight a fox cause he's gonna always lose that fight. :(
Last edited:
What I've read is that they are pretty hard to trap.
advanced search>titles only> trapping fox

Usually are set on trails so yes something else could step in it and get caught or blow your set.
You'll have to research your states trapping and livestock protection laws, start with the state DNR website or ask at a hunting gear store.
Grey or Red fox?
She may be bred already, but won't give birth until spring.

I understand the revenge part, might satisfy you for now and get rid of the vixen,
but in long run, there will probably be more preds, so electric and/or dig proof run wire(apron) will be best deterrent.

If they don't get a meal, they won't come back.
I agree with LeafBlade12345's suggestion about electric fence to deter further attacks. I have a large run without a cove so I use electric fence to keep out predators. I recommend a minimum of 4 strands, one 3 inches from the bottom to prevent digging, one at 24 and 36 inches to prevent climbing and the last 3 inches from the top as and additional line of deference from climbers such as raccoons.

Now to your question about trapping, I would not recommend a leg trap because of you cat and chickens. I would suggest a have-a-hart trap. I would both bait it and set it up against the run to look like a tunnel in. It will need to be covered so it dose not look like a cage because fox are smart.
Now to your question about trapping, I would not recommend a leg trap because of you cat and chickens. I would suggest a have-a-hart trap. I would both bait it and set it up against the run to look like a tunnel in. It will need to be covered so it dose not look like a cage because fox are smart.
Good thought, it would also keep deer from destroying it. I was considering a hay set design that looked pretty good, but a cage trap would probably be better.

It's definitely a red fox, I've seen her about, red and white with a black tail with a white tip (unless it's a cross-fox).

And as far as pred-proofing my pen, this is the first time I've lost a hen in years to ground predators. There are plenty of voles and other varmints for foxes, and I haven't had trouble with them in the past. I'm hoping it was a freak episode brought on by my own negligence. I was at the hardware store the other day and they had "dig-proof" fencing that sets about a foot down into the ground without having to dig in there, might be a good upgrade to the fencing I have now.

Got some good suggestions so far, anything else is welcome.
How do you get fence a foot into the ground without digging?! <scratcheshead>

Apron...can be buried an inch or so to miss mower blades, or laid right on top of ground with a few stakes.
Corner mesh is not to scale in pic...but don't forget the corners
I have tried all sorts of approaches. With a small group that I want to have free-ranged an easy approach involves electrified poultry netting. Then dispatching fox is not so needed and that effort can be more expensive time-wise that fencing. I also use hotwire around some pens to prevent digging and some can be done in a manner that still enables moving to pen from time to time. Some of the wire / hardware cloth options can stop smaller predators that have time constraints on how much effort they will invest in your birds but such will not stop a determined domestic dog. The hotwire / electrified poultry netting options will stop the dog.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom