Animal Control – Furbearers
Most furbearers have tremendous reproductive potential. In the absence of harvest, furbearer populations can quickly increase to levels above the carrying capacity of the environment When overpopulation occurs, one of nature’s control techniques will take effect. Disease, parasitism, and starvation are the most common natural mortality factors, and all are density related. Populations then quickly decline, reaching low levels undesirable to sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts. It is during the peak period of the population cycle that the threat to human health and property is the greatest.
Extremely cyclic populations and unhealthy animals characterize this system of control. Through the use of regulated trapping, furbearer populations are maintained below the carrying capacity of the environment. Population cycling is reduced or eliminated, and healthier animals result. Furbearer seasons are set to utilize the surplus animals before late winter, a time when most natural mortality occurs. This harvest is not additive but rather compensates for natural mortality.
Animal Control – Gray fox
The gray fox is an excellent mouser. While it rarely invades poultry yards, it has been known to prey on small farm animals and birds. Other problems include an occasional outbreak of canine distemper and–more rarely–an outbreak of rabies. The gray fox also may dig holes in yards. Solutions include the use of sentry dogs and bright flashing lights or a continuous bright light after dark, when pets and small farm animals should be confined. Other exclusionary methods include the removal of brush from around the ranch or farmsteads.
Foxes often become nuisances when they are fed by people. In these cases, feeding programs should be stopped and any other food sources eliminated. In Florida, the gray fox is a protected species and cannot be trapped or destroyed without a permit from the state Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC). Its coarse, thin coat does not have much commercial value.