Wild animals, 17.05.2022

Increase in scattering of rubbish on the streets of Zug

One reason for the increased number of cases of rubbish bags being torn open and spread over the road is probably foxes searching for food, although it is often difficult to identify the perpetrators. The waste collection association is therefore focusing on prevention, and is developing a new flyer. Underfloor containers could thereby provide a remedy.

It is particularly annoying for the employees of the Municipal Services (Werkhof): In the last few weeks, they have increasingly encountered cases of waste being scattered on the streets. This waste originates from rubbish bags (Güselsacks) that have been placed in front of the house too early, and have then been torn open by wild animals, often foxes.

There was a case in Cham just last week. Overnight, waste from a torn bag was scattered along an entire section of the road, as Markus Schuler, deputy head of the Werkhof, describes. Two helpful residents cleared away all the waste in the morning and informed the local council.

Incidents are also currently increasing in the city of Zug. It is getting warmer and the smells from the garbage bags are thereby more intense, according to the city's media office. For example, from meat-wrapping paper from grills or from bones. In addition to foxes, this also attracts cats and birds, especially crows.

The origin of the torn rubbish bags is often difficult to identify. In Cham, the waste is searched through for possible clues whenever the Werkhof employees have to clear away the mess themselves. "If we find something, we write or call the originators and explain why a correct placing of the rubbish bags on the respective day of collection is important," explains Markus Schuler. If there is a repeated violation, this could lead to a charge for illegal waste disposal.

He adds that municipal flyers on the subject are distributed in the affected streets and districts when incidents are reported or discovered.

A leaflet is sent out annually
The Association of Zug Municipalities for the Management of Waste (Zeba) has also received reports of torn rubbish bags, as Managing Director Heidi Oswald confirms. She emphasizes:

"In the recycling leaflet that are sent annually to all households, the population is expressly informed that the waste bags are only to be placed outside  on the day of collection."

A torn garbage bag in the city of Zug.
The Municipal Services are responsible for removing the mess. An example from the city of Zug.

Incidents are increasing due to foxes searching for food, here in the city of Zug.      Photos: PD
Foxes in residential areas feed, in particular, on compost, waste and pet food.      Symbolic image: Axel Schmidt

But this is obviously not enough, which is why the association is currently working on the development of a flyer that draws attention to the problem, says Heidi Oswald. But she also says that the problem will be mitigated by the introduction of more underfloor containers.

As is well known, Zeba and the municipalities are pursuing the goal of equipping the entire area with such containers by 2030. The population will be able to dispose of their waste there around the clock. "Waste containers on wheels can also provide a remedy where street collections still take place," adds Heidi Oswald.

Foxes become very ravenous
One reason that more bags are currently being torn open again is probably the foxes' increasing search for food, as the animals give birth to their young in March and April. "As with all mammals, the energy requirement of females during lactation is high," explains Roman Keller, Head of the Fisheries and Hunting Department at the Cantonal Office for Forests and Game. Not putting garbage bags in front of the door overnight is just one point to which the population should pay attention. He gives more tips:

Is the impression that foxes are increasingly being found in residential areas correct, and has their population grown? A reliable inventory count is difficult, according to Roman Keller.

"Estimates of population developments can be derived from data from hunting and dead game statistics. This shows that the fox population in the canton of Zug has increased."

Adaptable animals who are not particularly fussy
Foxes are very adaptable and are also not fussy when looking for food, according to the expert. "Residential areas often provide a wide range of food opportunities for foxes, and thereby a suitable basis for life. Studies even indicate that the density of foxes in large cities can be much higher than in rural areas."

150 to 200 foxes are killed every year in regular hunting in the canton of Zug. In addition, about 40 special culling sessions are carried out by hunters. According to Roman Keller, these special culling sessions are mainly carried out to reduce the damage the animals can cause, for example, prevent injuries to farm animals.