Life Cycle of a Hunted Fox

Warning this page contains graphic images which may upset some viewers.

Life Cycle of the Hunted Fox

There is no closed season for the killing of foxes, they are persecuted throughout the winter by fox hunters / terriermen and shot, trapped, snared and poisoned by farmers, estate owners and their gamekeepers throughout the rest of the year.

It is illegal to chase and kill foxes with a pack of hounds although hunts pay little attention to the law and continue to hunt and brutally kill foxes even after this was banned in 2005 making a mockery of our laws, lying to the public, police and justice system to cover up their illegal crimes.

Its been 13 years since the ban on fox hunting was introduced in the UK, in that time thousands and thousands of video evidence has been caught on camera of hunts illegally hunting and killing foxes and the often violent tactics they use to cover up their crimes.

The Hunting with dogs Act 2004 was introduced supposedly to protect UK wildlife, but due to :- · a weak Act which is full of loop holes, · lack of enforcement, · lenient sentences & fines, · bias legal system, · hunt supporters on high places …… sadly our wildlife continues to be hunted and brutally ripped apart.

There are various campaigns to change, strengthen and close the loop holes in the Hunting Act 2004 to prevent this cruelty.

Please support these campaigns and use this website for your information to help lobby your MPs, Police Crime Commissioners.


A year in the life of a hunted fox


(Peak of the Hunting Season)
These months are the period of unrest within the fox family – not only is it the peak of the mating season, but also the peak dispersal season too.

Cubs that were born last year, now adults, will be seen as a threat to the breeding rights and the available food supply of their parents. Any sub-adults who have failed to disperse will usually be continually chased away. Many of the sub-adults will actually leave of their own accord in search of a territory and a mate of their own.

Some females may be allowed to stay on within their parent’s territory. Although they will have given up their right to breed, some of the benefits outweigh this i.e. a secure territory, a regular supply of food and also knowledge of the area.

Foxes mate once a year between December and February and have a gestation period of approximately 51-53 days.

The mating season only lasts a few weeks, and during this period the dominant female fox comes into heat (oestrus) once. Her oestrus is short, lasting only about three days. Only the dominant vixen in a territory will be allowed to mate.

Afterwards, the vixen wastes no time in seeking out and preparing an earth/ den to give birth. Sadly, many of these dens are destroyed by the hunt’s terriermen.



Cubs are normally born during March and April.

Vixens (female foxes) are heavily pregnant during the later part of the hunting season and in many cases the unborn foetus has been found discarded on the ground after the female fox has been ripped apart by the hounds.

The dominant vixen gives birth underground to a litter of 4-5 cubs, and will not reappear above ground for a few weeks. During this period, she relies primarily on her mate to hunt and bring back food. If the male fox is killed during this cub feeding period, the whole family are at risk of starvation.

This is a worrying time for the fox family, as if hunters & terriermen find out where the family is hiding, they will dig her out and throw her and the cubs to the hounds.

Fox cubs remain in the family group for eight or nine months, at which point they may leave to seek out their own territories. Some young vixens may stay with the family.

Fox populations are controlled by nature and are self regulating. It is the height of all arrogance to suggest that nature, operating freely, needs a helping hand.

Where there is little food, loss of habitat etc there will be few foxes.

This self-regulation means that there is no point killing ‘unwanted’ foxes – or re-locating them elsewhere, because another fox will move onto the territory to fill the gap vacated by the fox removed if there is a sufficient food supply.

Anyone who tells you that they can solve your fox problem by killing or removing the fox is an arrogant fool that needs educating about wildlife.

Supporters of fox hunting claim that fox populations need to be ‘managed’ in order to maintain the balance between over-population – which would inconvenience farmers and large landowners – and under-population which, at worst, would endanger the species as a whole. This is, in a word, rubbish.

Foxes are killed for one reason only and that’s purely for fun.


Even though the hunting season finishes in March, many foxes will continue to be persecuted throughout the spring season being shot, snared, poisoned, trapped and being blamed for lamb deaths.

Foxes Wrongly blamed for lamb deaths

FALSE  :  Hunt supporters falsely claim that the fox population needs to be controlled because they are a problem to farmers.

TRUTH  :  This myth that foxes are a problem to farmers has already been repeatedly debunked by scientific studies, which DEFRA accepts.

Foxes are often blamed for killing lambs. However, a fox is no match for a healthy lamb, particularly a lamb being protected by the mother ewe.

According to Defra (2004), the main causes of lamb losses are: abortion, stillbirth,  weather exposure, starvation, multiple births, infectious disease and congenital defects.

Of all the lambs that die 95% of lamb losses are due to poor farm husbandry practices.
For the remaining 5%, it is debatable if foxes or domestic dogs are responsible.

Resorting to carrion for food, foxes and badgers will sometimes clean up sheep carcasses which are left in fields to rot by farmers. As a result, they may be seen and mistaken for the actual killers, which hunts take full advantage of, making false exaggerated claims to make the fox look like a villain in the media. Is this because hunts have a hidden agenda to poison the public’s minds so they can continue to hunt foxes. After all, the hunts make big money out of killing foxes.



(Hunt Cubbing Season)

At this stage, fox cubs are only 5-6 months old and are not fully grown or independent. They don’t normally start to leave the family group until late winter.

Cubbing is illegal and its main objective is training the young hounds to kill by ripping the cubs apart. The hounds are trained to recognise the smell, look and taste of a fox as well as how to hunt as a pack.

Cub hunting is a brutal, cruel and bloody affair (though mostly conducted out of sight in secret).

The huntsmen and a few invited riders will surround a wood (covert) containing a fox den, forming a circle to prevent the cubs escaping.

They then send in the young pack of hounds into the wood to train them to kill ready for the new hunting season.

If the cubs try to escape, the hunters will shout and smack their riding boots with their whips to frighten the cubs and drive them back inside the covert – and into the waiting jaws of the hounds to be ripped apart.

If the fox seeks safety in their den, the terriermen with their terrier dogs are sent in to dig out the cubs and dragged them out of their dens (if not killed underground by the terriers) and thrown to a pack of hounds/dogs to be ripped apart.

Many hunts pre-kill the adult foxes which, given a loop hole in the law, then allows them to kill the cubs.

Cub hunting must be one of the cruellest hunting activities and one which is blatantly illegal and shows total intent to kill and break the law.

If the hunts are caught doing this illegal activity, they will lie and try to convince you they are ‘trail-hunting’ or ‘hound exercising’ to avoid prosecution . This is a total lie and nonsense. Why would you go into a covert and lay a trail inside a small piece of woodland and then surround it before sending in the dogs? It is illegal, it is abhorrent and the people who do this barbaric illegal hunting should be prosecuted.

If any fox cubs do manage to escape the hunting hounds and terriermen, many are still unable to hunt a wide range of food as they are still dependent on their parents. This results in either starvation or a deficiency of vital nutrients in their diet, with weakened health and compromised immune system leading to diseases.



(Fox hunting season starts 1st November)

Fox Hunting continues throughout the winter months under the guise of “Trail Hunting”.

This is where hunts pretend to follow an artificial trail by taking advantage of loop holes in the law and claiming a fox kill was an accident i.e hunters will only be prosecuted if video evidence shows the hunt “intentionally” meant to chase and kill a fox.

The problem is the police don’t actually go into the hunting fields to collect video evidence themselves.

Hunts are only prosecuted if members of the public supply the evidence needed and therefore it has to be questioned if the police are failing to uphold the law.

Many foxes are ripped apart and killed throughout this season and with hunts becoming braver to blatantly break the law due to · a weak protection Act which is full of loop holes, · lack of enforcement, · lenient sentences & fines.

The “Hunting with Dogs Act 2004” is a disgraceful and poorly written act full of loop holes which allows hunts to make a mockery of our legal system, encourages dishonesty, lying and violence towards the public trying to gain video evidence.

This Act urgently needs strengthening, loop holes closed, enforcing with stiffer sentences.

There are various campaigns to change, strengthen and close the loop holes in the Hunting Act 2004 to prevent this cruelty.

Please support these campaigns and use this website for your information to help lobby your MPs, Police Crime Commissioners, share etc.

There is a strong link between hunting and fox diseases/health conditions. Hunted foxes become stressed thus lowering their immune system and ability to feed themselves resulting in weakened ill foxes susceptible to diseases.
Strengthen Hunting Act

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