Big Issue: Ever-growing human population is making foxes bolder
WHEN a wild creature loses its natural fear of mankind, it becomes more unpredictable – especially species that frequent urban areas such as the red fox.
Thirty years ago, a fox spotted in a built-up part of a town or city was a rarity.
The advent of fast food outlets and other factors, such as the incredible amount of food waste discarded by modern families, have contributed to this fox colonisation of urban areas.
Of course, habituation (animals becoming accustomed to man) goes hand in hand with these changes.
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Many of us encourage foxes, badgers and even deer into our gardens by feeding them for the pleasure of watching or filming their activities.
Although this exercise can give much pleasure to many, particularly the elderly and housebound, it can only increase any problematic behaviour that occurs, such as a cache (burying of excess food) in flowerbeds by foxes, digging up lawns looking for worms by badgers and eating our shrubs and rose bushes by deer, generally roe.
I have watched a vixen teach her cubs how to scavenge discarded remains from takeaway cartons in the car park of an American fried chicken outlet.
A fascinating observation of an opportunistic carnivore doing what it does best, learning to stay alive.
It has to be exceptional behaviour for a fox to attack a person – usually only fear will prompt this action on the fox's part.
But, as in the recent attack on a baby in Bromley, it could be that because of the massive fox population in the metropolis, competition for food is making the animals bolder and more aggressive than usual.
I have had a few reports of extra large foxes being sighted locally.
One observer claims he saw one the size of his large labrador scatter a pair of normal sized foxes away from a roe deer carcass, which it then proceeded to pick up by the ribcage and carry off.
Needless to say, I now have an auto trail camera set up in his garden where the incident occurred, in the hope it may return.
In favour of the urban fox though, it must be mentioned that they help immensely in keeping down the over invasive rodent we have in this country – wherever we are, we are only three metres away from a rat.
Of course, they are hidden most of the time and mainly nocturnal.
So, wild animals for wild places is the best policy for man and beast in the ever-increasing human population with their determined effort to concrete whatever wild and green places we have left on the planet.