Red foxes help control prey populations and disperse seeds, but are widely regarded as a pest, threatening poultry and transmitting rabies.
The red fox is widely regarded as a pest and is unprotected, but is present in most temperate-subarctic conservation areas.
Red foxes help control populations of their prey animals, such as rodents and rabbits, and may disperse seeds by eating fruit, but they are considered by many to be threats to poultry. In general, foxes hunt their natural prey, but individual foxes may learn to target domestic birds if they are not adequately protected. Foxes are also known vectors for rabies and can transmit the disease to humans and other animals.
Most countries and states where trapping or hunting occurs have regulated closed versus open seasons and restrictions on methods of capture.
In the European Union, Canada, and the Russian Federation, trapping methods are regulated under an agreement on international trapping standards between these countries, which was signed in 1997. Other countries are signatories to ISO/DIS 10990-5.2 animal (mammal) traps, which specifies standards for trap testing.
In Europe and North America, hunting traditions and/or legislation impose closed seasons on fox hunting.
In the United Kingdom and a few other European countries, derogation from these provisions allows breeding season culling for pest-control purposes. Here, traditional hunting ethics encouraging restrained use may be at odds with harder hitting pest-control ambitions. This apparent conflict between different interest groups is particularly evident in the UK, where fox control patterns are highly regionally variable.
In some regions, such as principal lowland areas where classical mounted hunting operates, limited economic analyses suggest that the principal motive for these communal fox hunts is as a sport; the number killed is small compared with the cost of the hunting. In these regions, most anthropogenic mortality is by individual farmers shooting foxes. The mounted communal hunts do exhibit restraint; hunting takes place for a limited season and for a prescribed number of days per week. Elsewhere, in upland regions, communal hunting by foot with guns and dogs may make economic sense, depending on the number of lambs lost to foxes, though data on this is poor, and also on the current value of lost lambs. This type of fox hunting may also be perceived as a sport by its participants.