Residents upset after foxes feast on fowl

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 19, 2014

LAYTON, Utah -- Backyard chickens are all the rage these days, but some homeowners in Utah are finding out that wild foxes are also enjoying the trend.

Reta Marcus lives on the benches of Layton. When FOX 13 News visited, her seven chickens were out of their coop and enjoying the two-acre property they call home.

Marcus said she used to have about 20 chickens, but foxes have killed the rest.

“It’s been really bad this year, the most foxes I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived here about 30 years,” she said.

Marcus’ coop is a work in progress, and her dog helps her chase the predators away, but she wants wildlife officials do to more.

“I don’t necessarily want them killed, but I would certainly like them thinned out,” she said.

It’s a similar situation down the street for Pat Jamison. She’s lost six birds. Her flock is now huddled inside a barn with no guarantee the shelter will keep the foxes out. Jamison said losing one of her chickens is like losing a family pet.

“I’ve got them all named, and it’s just really sad to go out there and have to pick up their dead bodies," she said.

FOX 13 News talked with experts at the Department of Wildlife Resources, who explained that this is a common problem for people living so close to Utah’s wildlife.

“There’s a thing called the law of conservation of energy,” said Phil Douglass, a conservation outreach manager with the DWR. “A predator won’t expend more energy than what’s necessary, and if they find an easy prey like a chicken in a chicken coop they go to that.”

He said trapping or shooting the foxes is not practical for residential areas and suggests chicken owners simply do a better job of protecting their feathered friends.

“Keeping your pets in secure areas and doing some secure things with chicken coops and other places where pets are going to be, that’s the most practical solution in this case,” Douglass said.