In an article in The Independent today, Mayor Boris said it is not his remit to control foxes, that is the job of the local councils. I live right by Hampstead Heath, and the foxes are becoming bolder and bolder.
They regularly stroll up my garden path to mark out their territory with foul urine, eyeing me with an arrogant, crafty stare. A friend who lives two doors away bought a pair of guinea pigs for her twins and placed their hutch in the garden. It only took three days before the guineas were toast. A fox got into their padlocked hutch, goodness knows how, and munched them up leaving only a few claws. At night the screams and moans from mating foxes are like the Rape of the Sabine Women.
Animal lovers are blind on this subject. Even after the awful case of the two baby twins attacked by a fox, one of whom is still in danger, they vow that foxes never attack humans. But they obviously do! A dear friend of mine so adores animals, she refuses to believe that the injuries done to the babies was caused by a fox. In the face of such animal adoration, such ardent belief that foxes are cute, cuddly, innocent pets, pointing out that the fox was caught red-handed seems like cruelty to humans.
Some people, and they are always the kindest people, adore animals and insist on transferring their own kind qualities onto the animal of their choice. Naturalist Timothy Treadwell lived among the coastal grizzly bears of Katmai National Park in Alaska, USA, for approximately 13 seasons. He so trusted the bears, he would play with them, give them pet names and cuddle them, believing they loved him back, blind to the fact that they are dangerous predators. At the end of his 13th season in the park in 2003, after a particularly hard winter, he and his girlfriend were attacked by one of the bears he had petted. The bear was starving and desperate for food, and killed them both.
Their story is told in the fascinating documentary Grizzly Man, by German film maker Werner Herzog. Treadwell was photographing the entire time that he spent with the bears, and sadly, the accident that caused their death was also filmed. Although the death is not shown in the documentary, you can hear the screams, which are appalling, but out of respect to the couple, only a tiny moment of this is included in the film.
Local councils should continually impress on householders they must not leave food around outside. It only encourages rats and foxes to roam round domestic property, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Boris and his family were very upset when their much loved family cat got into a fight with a fox and was badly injured. Possibly immediately after that incident, his attitude to foxes was rather more bloodthirsty than normal.
Few councils are prepared to face public anger by instigating a fox cull. They should all be more vigilant in encouraging householders not to leave food around outside. This sensible measure would prevent babies and pets being attacked by foxes.