Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Out Foxed

It's nearly three years since I first blogged about feeding the foxes of Worcester Park - a blog post which quite unexpectedly lead to a furious debate over our four-legged friends (and made the pages of the Sutton Guardian to boot).

Back then it was the anti-fox brigade leading the calls to stop feeding the foxes- but now I receive an e-mail from a fox lover imploring Worcester Park residents to stop feeding the local foxes:

"Feeding foxes makes them accustomed to human food (or dog/cat food if that's what you are doing).  As human food is high in calories the foxes will develop a taste for it and prefer it.  

Once the cute fuzzy cubs grow up and leave the den they will have to find their own food.  If their mother has only been bringing them sandwiches left out by well meaning locals the cubs won't know how to hunt vermin (which we want them to do) and will instead be looking for the food they are used to.  

Leaving aside the aesthetic concern that residents of several streets spend time every morning cleaning up the half eaten crusts scattered over thier gardens, if the foxes are hungry enough they will override their instinctive fear of people and will enter homes through open windows or doors, lured by the smell of familiar food.  

This is why young foxes start coming into peoples' houses - they are looking for food.  They are also opportunistic carnivores and may attack the family pet, or worse, if they see the prospect of an easy meal.
By feeding the foxes, residents are creating a potentially tragic situation, such as we all read about in the news last summer.  And for those who, like me, love foxes, it would be a gross injustice if, through well intentioned ignorance, some people cause foxes to lose their fear of humans and be branded a menace.  I for one would not like to see wholesale poisoning or trapping and killing of foxes because they have been made aggressive. 
Please, stop feeding the foxes so we can keep enjoying them for many years to come."