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The Plight of Foxes on RPA site

Date posted: Saturday 27th November 2021

The Plight of Foxes on RPA site

So sad to have to report that yet another dead fox was discovered last week on a plot; it looked to be in good condition and there was no apparent cause of death. Earlier this year it had adopted my plot for snoozes in the sun, one of a pair of young foxes, possibly siblings that have been frequenting the site this year; both had visited my plot a day or so before this latest fatality was found. My thoughts are that these foxes are being poisoned, perhaps inadvertently by ingesting toxic rodenticide, but of course it’s not possible to prove this and an autopsy would be costly and not necessarily have a conclusive result as to the cause of death. But I do feel that people should be discouraged from using any form of toxic chemical harmful to wildlife; it would be difficult for us to impose a complete ban although that would be my preferred option.

Whatever one’s feelings about these creatures are, they are top predators and an essential part of the eco-system, keeping at bay pigeons, rats and other unwanted plot visitors. The last time we lost both resident foxes from the site in 2018 coincided with an influx of rabbits from the park. As soon as foxes reappeared on the allotments the rabbits disappeared.

Both of these youngsters seemed unfazed by close proximity to us and may have been habituated to being around people when cubs, possibly having been fed in someone’s garden. It’s not advisable to feed foxes as they need to find their own food naturally. Both have been in the habit of coming up very close, giving you a shock when you look up from planting beans to see one over your shoulder..! We’ve had to put up a notice requesting that plotholders do not feed it and particularly not by hand. Although it is not noticeably aggressive or harassing we need it to eat a natural diet, as our ex-Chair so rightly says, namely the pests (vermin) on our plots! And it’s a good idea to keep shed doors locked and edibles out of the way, as they are nifty movers if they think a food treat might be in store!

Information about foxes, legislation and poisoning from The Fox Project:
Do you suspect a fox has been poisoned?
It’s illegal to poison foxes. The government’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme looks into the deaths of wildlife where pesticide poisoning may be involved.
Look out for: animals that have died suddenly for no obvious reason
If you find an animal that you suspect has been poisoned, or find evidence of a pesticide that puts wildlife or pets at risk, contact the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme Hotline on 0800 321 600.
Information about foxes from Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust:
‘What do urban foxes eat? They have very varied diet. Urban foxes eat earthworms, insects, fruit and vegetables and a wide variety of both domestic wild birds and mammals. Insects include large numbers of beetles, cut worms (the larvae of noctuid moths, which they get off lawns on wet nights), and both larval and adult craneflies. Most of the birds they eat are feral pigeons and small garden birds, and the most frequently eaten mammals are generally field voles, abundant on allotments, railway lines and other grassy areas.
Should I feed my foxes? If you want to, yes; lots of people feed foxes, either regularly or occasionally, and get a great deal of enjoyment from doing so, but please be aware they are wild animals – feed and watch them, but don’t try and tame them. In particular, don’t put out excessive amounts of food and clear away any uneaten food. This will help ensure you do attract unwanted visitors, such as rats or cause a nuisance to your neighbours.
Should I hand-feed the foxes? No. Do not try to make foxes tame. While it is a great thrill to have wild foxes coming to take food from your hand, problems arise because many urban foxes are now so tame that they approach strangers in the expectation of being fed. Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of people are scared by such behaviour because they do not know if the foxes are being aggressive or just inquisitive.
Will foxes kill my cat? It’s possible but very unlikely. A typical urban fox home range can be occupied by upwards of 100 cats, and most of these are out at night. Foxes and cats meet many times every night, and invariably ignore each other. When a fight does break out, it’s often the fox that comes off worse in the encounter.’
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