Saturday, 12 November 2011

Urban Fox Problem?

As with all things where town-meets-country, misconception and folklore romp home while the science stuff is still putting its boots on. Foxes must be about the best example of this. Out of Town: known pests that predate on the eggs of ground nesting birds, and the newborn young of deer, that are to be shot on sight. Whereas within the confines of the city: foxes are both violent interloper and anthropomorphised pseudo-pet. On the same street some people are investing in fox-proofed dustbins while others are buying cat-food to encourage them.

Twenty years ago the sight of a suburban fox was a remarkable one, now they are a common sight even in the daytime, as far into the city as London Bridge! As a life of discarded KFC and Kebabs is easier than actually hunting in the countryside where the locals shoot on sight, we'll see even more of them in the coming years.

Not too far from me in Hackney's Victoria Park a family home was invaded and their sleeping children attacked last year. I've had one come into the house, and my friends R&E have been subjected to a campaign of shoe chewing. The raided dustbins, noise and disease-carrying poo all over the garden don't endear them either.

A couple of weekends ago I went out with Tim of Urban Fox Control to learn a little more about the ways and means of dealing with the city's ever growing fox population.

Tim explained that while it would be legal to shoot foxes from an upstairs window it would be far from practical. He favours baiting a large cage with [you've guessed it] KFC, once the fox has imprisoned itself the householder can pop a cover over the cage to minimise the foxes discomfort. Tim or one of his team will come out that day to administer a .17 sleeping pill.

As we pulled back the cover the fox was sitting defiantly in the cage and didn't seem distressed to be so close to us, as Tim had prepared the rifle the time between pulling back the cover and the fox's demise was only about 30 seconds.

Knowing that fox shooters in the countryside usually use a bullet whose calibre begins with a .2 [eg .222/.22-250/.243] I asked Tim why he was using such a small bullet. Tim explained that the smaller bullet travels exceptionally fast but is also exceptionally fragile - leading to it disintegrating on impact with the foxes skull, this was borne out when he showed me that there was no damage to the wooden decking where the cage had been standing, this disintegration also means there is no danger of a ricochet leaving the garden or doing collateral damage to one of the family's gnomes.

I'm hoping to start keeping chickens next year but the garden is bisected by fox trails so I'm guessing this wont be my last experience of suburban fox control

More soon
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