POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets?

POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets?

Animal lovers are calling for a cull to stop wild animals killing their pets including a cat whose head was eaten by a fox.

But the RSPCA and local councils said the animals can only be controlled by humane methods, rather than culling.

A fox walks along a garden fence in West London. In the years between the two World Wars, Britain’s suburbs pushed deep into the fox’s natural habitat in the countryside, and many foxes in turn headed for the inner city. (Jim Dyson / Getty Images)

Demand for pest control services to kill urban foxes usually spikes after Christmas, when large amounts of food are thrown away, and during mating season in March and April. Julia Gray, from Twickenham, south west London, had her 13-year-old cat, Annie, killed by a fox in her garden in March last year.

She returned home one night to find foxes had killed Annie and even eaten her head. Ms Gray said she did not want any other domestic animals to suffer the same fate, and has called for Richmond Council to open a discussion around fox culling.

She said: “There was fur everywhere and I found her with her head eaten. It was horrific. “A few years ago there were hedgehogs in our garden and one winter, on the lawn, foxes dug the hedgehogs out of hibernation and ate them.

“I love all animals but I fear for all our small domestic animals as well as other wildlife creatures, in particular the hedgehogs.”

There was fur everywhere and I found her with her head eaten. It was horrific

Julia Gray

Another local added: “I’m sick of these ASBO foxes. We used to get loads of lovely birds and squirrels in our garden but now there aren’t any because the foxes have eaten them all. “Something needs to be done.”

Abi Holloway, from nearby Teddington, said she recently had chickens and a tortoise killed by foxes. She said: “We went away one weekend and we came back to found them completely annihilated.

One owner says its cat’s head was eaten by a fox – Photo by Getty
The RSPCA and local councils said the animals can only be controlled by humane methods – Photo by Getty

“The foxes ate their heads. It was very sad.

“And once they dug up a tortoise which had been buried for winter.

“I came back one morning to find they had dug him up, Reginald the tortoise. He was very lovely.

“You do your best to protect the chickens; we dug the wire fence very deep and it was high, but the foxes are very clever.

“They managed to climb a tree and get in through the top.”

Fox cull specialist Tom Keightley said he had received extermination requests from residents who struggle to protect animals kept in gardens from foxes.

He said noise, especially during mating season, and excrement left in gardens were two common complaints.

A number of gruesome cat deaths within the M25 had previously been linked to a human, dubbed the ‘Croydon Cat Killer’, but the accepted wisdom is that foxes are responsible.

The RSPCA argued a cull would be unnecessary and may not actually be effective since other foxes, as territorial animals, would move to take over in an area which had seen a cull.

Richmond Council said it does not support or practise lethal control, instead advising residents on humane solutions.

Richmond Council said it does not support or practice lethal control – Photo by Getty

Councillor Pamela Fleming, the council’s member for environment, said: “The most humane and natural way to control the fox population is to limit their food supply. The less food there is for them to eat – the fewer there will be.

“Storing your food waste securely and recycling it not only stops foxes and other animals tearing open black sacks, but it can be converted into energy and fertiliser. It also reduces waste.

“There are people who see a family of foxes and decide to put food out, but this doesn’t help.”

In 2015 Hackney Council, in east London, scrapped plans to “humanely trap” and destroy foxes in one of its parks, after thousands of outraged people complained.

This article was first published by The Express on 26 Jan 2017.

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