What would the fox say? Britain’s iconic and controversial creature

By Alex

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Image Credit: Winking fox. Sheryl, Flickr: Link Featured Image: Red Fox, Chris Parker. Flickr. Link

The fox is one of the easiest of our native wildlife to identify, but has not enjoyed an easy relationship with humans. Since the 17th century, fox hunting has been a strong tradition in England – and its recent ban has proven a contentious issue.

The red fox is the only wild member of the dog family living in the UK, and can be found all across the Britain but for some surrounding islands, from woodlands to farmland to our own back gardens.

Estimates for fox populations are hard to come by, but it is suggested by the University of Bristol’s Mammal Research Unit that there are about 33,000 urban foxes in Britain and that number hasn’t changed much since the 1980s.

Often we hear about foxes “mauling” children in cities, and London Mayor Boris Johnson has claimed that they are a “growing problem”. In 2010 two baby sisters were mauled by a fox in East London and a three-year-old boy was bitten when he disturbed a fox in Brighton.

There are a number of ways to deal with foxes, depending on your opinion. If you want to encourage friendly foxes, Lincolnshire Wildlife trust suggests leaving a bowl of dog food in your back garden (though you should probably check if your neighbour has chickens, first).

However, if you’re living within the city and don’t want to attract foxes to your home, block up holes, use repellent, and shut downstairs windows. Foxes are attracted to open bins and leftover food.

Did you know:

  • The red fox (Vulpes Vulpes) is present across the entire Northern Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North American and Eurasia?
  • It is included amongst the world’s most 100 invasive species, due to its presence in Australia.
  • The red fox is the most capable fox to adapt to new environments.
  • Red foxes usually stay together in mated pairs, and their young stay with their parents to look after new kits.
  • They feed primarily on rodents, as well as birds, reptiles, invertebrates and fruit and vegetables.
  • The fox has traditionally been one of the most important animals in the fur trade.
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