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.