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Urban foxes: Friend or foe?

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Love them or loathe them, urban foxes live on our doorstep and we have to deal with them. Or do we?

Parents were shocked when, in 2002, Dartford mum Sue Eastwood claimed her 14-week-old son Louis was bitten on the head by a fox after one dashed into her living room. And in March this year Orpington civil servant Seb Baker revealed how he had been corned by a creature after doing his shopping at Tesco. He claimed the animal circled him and nipped at his Tesco bags. But tales of a growing population and giant baby-threatening foxes are dismissed by supporters as ‘little more than myths and nonsense’. They are, according to staff at Tunbridge Wells’ Fox Project, which takes in injured animals, simply propaganda propelled by the pro-hunt lobby. Do these animals really pose a danger to us or can we find a way to live harmoniously with our wily friends? Tell us what you think…

Chris Shrosbree, 61, of Riverview Park, Gravesend, has taken drastic measures to deter foxes from her garden

I’ll admit that a healthy-looking fox is a very attractive animal but the foxes that come into our garden are scruffy and look as though they’ve got mange.

When our cat was alive she contracted mange because of them. They scream at night and keep us awake. They dig up our plants and poo all over the place, which is a health hazard, especially when the grandchildren play in the garden.

We don’t encourage them by leaving out food, and we dare not put out our waste bags too far ahead of the rubbish collectors otherwise the foxes tear the bags apart.

It’s interesting that there was a programme on television recently about how to look after the foxes that make dens in our gardens, but at no time did they give us any hints about preventing them from coming in the garden in the first place.

We’re not sure whether the person who lives behind us knows that there is a den in her garden.

I am an animal lover and wouldn’t want to bring any harm to a fox and we have tried all the suggested remedies to deter them, from spreading human urine and hair over the garden but to no avail.

You can buy deterrent sprays to stop cats coming into the garden so if someone could invent the same to deter foxes it would be very welcome.

Jan Yarker, 65, of Birchtree Avenue, West Wickham, believes there is no point in killing foxes

Foxes are being forced into our towns because we are constantly building on their habitat. We take their land from them so it should come as no surprise that they need to use ours.

The pro-hunt lobby will tell you that fox numbers are increasing- this is a myth. The truth is that the fox population either stays stable or, as recorded in the South East has declined 18 per cent since 1998.

Fox populations self regulate. They only breed enough to replace numbers lost since the previous breeding season.

The pest control route, which is extremely cruel and costly, is pointless because foxes will always re-populate. If you don’t like having foxes in your garden, cheaper, humane deterrents are available.

One of these will leave a fox scent in your garden, causing visiting foxes to stay away believing another fox has marked it’s territory. Simple!

If you do enjoy seeing foxes in your garden, don’t allow them to eat from your hand. This will encourage them to approach other people in the same way or even come into the house.

Another pro-hunt lobby myth is that foxes are getting larger. This is designed to cause hysteria. There were large foxes reported 100 years ago and there are extremes in all species, including humans. The largest foxes are found in rural areas where they fend for themselves and are no threat to anyone.

For more information, please email fox@foxproject.org.uk or phone: 01892 824111. To help an injured or sick fox, phone 07778 909 092.

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