One of the more unusual problems raised when canvassing has been a complaint about foxes. Some people love to catch a sight of a fox, even leave out food where they can be watched from a window but others see them as disease-carrying and garden-destroying vermin. Is there a right and a wrong side of this debate?
Dave Wall who headed up the Urban Fox Project from the Zoology Dept in UCD researching the numbers of foxes in Dublin found that we have similar density of fox population to British cities such as Bristol or London and that numbers have not actually increased, it just seems that way because the human environment is encroaching more and more on the foxes’ territories and so foxes are getting tamer and more visible.
The amount of food scraps available for foxes makes gardens rich pickings for them, they also enjoy digging up bulbs as a tasty snack – making them a pest for garden lovers but the good news is that they are no more likely to carry disease than local dogs or cats. The exception being mange which can spread to dogs but not to cats or humans. Fox droppings are going to be a problem, especially for those who do not have any pets and are not expecting to have to clean up messes before they let children play in the garden.
It definitely is not a good idea to corner a fox, like any wild animal they WILL bite when threatened but keep to the rule that it is better to run away and live to fight another day. And that is why many people love to spot a fox – and it is even more of a coup to manage to photograph one. Thanks to Eddie Gahan for this sneaky shot.
The British experience has been that there is no point in poisoning or relocating foxes, if your garden is an attractive territory other foxes will just move in and claim it for themselves. The key – or perhaps constant battle would be a more accurate way to put it – is to protect your garden from the fox. The main methods employed to do this are barriers and repellants. As foxes are burrowing animals any barrier – strong chain mail fencing for example – will have to extend underground as well as over ground. Repellants have varying levels of success and will fade or after a period of time in any case. Of course keeping the lid of the brown bin well secured and food for other pets indoors will also be a disincentive for the fox – as well as cats and rats.
The following websites have more detailed information and while South Dublin County Council cannot be expected to control what is a wild animal after all they could include such information on their website to help those who are finding it difficult to cope with the nocturnal visitors and to reassure those who are needlessly afraid.
22 February 2014
South Dublin County Council
Dear Sir / Madam
As Green Party representative for the Templeogue-Terenure area I have to bring to your attention some serious path defects on Ballyroan Road on behalf of residents there. The paths on Ballyroan Road are generally in a good state of repair but the driveway outside No. 2 has one very large pothole which could damage a car as well as several smaller holes and severe cracks in the concrete. Furthermore the grass verges here are being damaged by visitors to the Doctor’s surgery at driving up to park to the doctor’s surgery at No.4.
Having got back on the canvassing track after the Christmas break and winter virus outbreaks etc, I’m confined to home AGAIN with two children and one husband knocked out with a variety of symptoms (vomitting, fever, coughs and headaches, not pretty). So I am spending the time working on submissions to the council on issues raised by locals on recent canvassing days.
Yet another dangerous crossing has been highlighted at the Firhouse Road/Ballyroan Road junction, with residents on Ballyroan Road and all of those coming from the Knocklyon direction unable to cross the Firhouse Road safely and directly over to the 15B bus stop. There is a pedestrian crossing on Old Bridge Road and one on Butterfield Avenue which work with the traffic lights controlling the junction and it is only common sense that there should be one leading to the bus stop which is where the pedestrians are likely to be headed.
This raises another question; Can Irish drivers and pedestrians be trusted with plain Zebra crossings with no lights? The majority of crossings in South Dublin Co Co are Pelican crossings – controlled by lights – these seem to either cause resentment among drivers because of long wait times or fear among pedestrians – especially the elderly – if they do not give enough time to cross the road (or roads where two crossings are on the same system). Younger and more agile people are more likely to skip across a road, dodging traffic if there is no convenient crossing increasing the risk of injury or death. Our neighbours in the UK are now using Puffin crossings – user-friendly crossings which use infra-red sensors to detect when the pedestrians have crossed and change the signal accordingly. These have ‘reduced delays to motor vehicles, and improved crossing conditions for elderly and disabled persons by automatically varying the crossing times’ according to the 2pass website for learner drivers – http://www.2pass.co.uk/crossing.htm#.Uwix2yhCgwM . South Dublin Co Co should do a cost benefit analysis of these compared with the traditional Pelican crossings. Of course the cheapest form of crossing is the simple Zebra crossing and given Ireland’s improved road safety record perhaps it is time to trust our citizens with using them.