Monday, June 07, 2010

Beautiful urban foxes

There's a mini-tabloid storm brewing against urban foxes because, apparently, a fox wandered into someone's home bit a couple of kids for kicks and then wandered off again. The papers do not record whether the fox's friends filmed the incident on their mobile phones, or whether the fox had arrived in London from Poland in a secret compartment in a lorry.

Whatever the ins and outs of the case, and let's assume it's all true, this would make it an extremely rare occurrence.

The Guardian tells us that "Vulpes vulpes has long fascinated and repelled us", which is news to me. Who is this "us" who have long been "repelled" by beautiful urban foxes? Bed wetting Guardian journalists no doubt.

The article ends with a list of ways of "off foxing the fox" which are basically a number of ways of moving the fox into your neighbour's garden.

Thankfully the Guardian's eco-wing has a better article by the sainted Terry Nutkins which a) casts doubt on whether this was a fox at all and b) reminds us that foxes not go out of their way to harm humans, the harm is purely a one-way process. Well worth a read.

The BBC reports that the authorities went and found a fox and killed it in retaliation but they also quote a fox expert, John Bryant, who says that a fox attack of this kind makes no sense what-so-ever.

Whatever really happened in this case I'm concerned that, in typical knee jerk fashion, we may be facing a reprisal fox cull which will make no one any the safer but do yet more to purge our cities of some of its most delightful inhabitants.

n.b. I wondered whether foxes ate rats in order for me to make a case that they were useful, but wikipedia seems to think they mainly eat insects and worms, but whether we can trust this source or not I don't know as it doesn't even mention their main diet, discarded kebabs.


Unknown said...

The phone-in on 5Live this morning discussed this, with someone saying that they "kept" a fox as a pet, and it would keep their garden rat-free (they offered that they lived next to a hospital, hence all the rats - but didn't go into further detail on that!)

Thankfully, there was another voice of reason who phoned up to scoff at a woman who said foxes "don't belong", by pointing out that humans tend to infest places they "don't belong" too.

Anonymous said...

Totally with you on this Jim, defend urban foxes. There are loads where I live, and they are so timid and run off once they see humans. Haven't met a fox as yet who isn't scared of humans. I agree too about the knee jerk reactions (actually the attacks by domestic dogs is higher, isn't it?)

Foxes are wonderful and beautiful creatures.

And you know, these foxes are always being caught for underage drinking in taverns like the 'Fox and Hound' and known to lead hounds astray!

Jim Jepps said...

Who does belong?

The fact is that this is in the news because it's incredibly rare - if it was a fox that is which the BBC expert casts doubt on, perhaps it was a stray dog.

People are hurt by trees every day, shall we chop them all down?

Foxes are one of the best things about living in the city and, as you say L, they are very cautious creatures but it's so wonderful when you encounter one on the street...

Noel Lynch said...

Thanks, Jim, for bringing this up. I'm a country person and have never heard of a fox attacking a child. I doubt if there is any truth in this story.

I remember one morning when I was a member of the London Assembly, walking along Queens Walk. I could see the crowds seperating ahead of me. As I proceeded, a fox came trotting along and people just stepped aside for it. I thought to myself that the fox gave more pleasure to the people than anything else that day.

Unknown said...

The backlash has already started against the foxes. This has been found and the various Facebook anti-hunting pages are doing their best to try and get these people caught and dealt with.

I see that you're the Total Politics top green blogger and wondered if you could help.

Sorry to post this out of the blue, but am trying to think of as many people and organisations as possible who could help.

Jim Jepps said...

Thanks Ros - I've sent this to our animal rights list to see if they can help - it might be possible to get a prosecution of the individual if he can be identified. Absolutely disgraceful - thanks for forwarding.