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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 8 April, 2020

Four tips to better understanding the fox

The Irish Wildlife Trust has issued recommendations to the public following reports on the wild animals in recent weeks.

Red fox
Red fox
Image: Andrew Kelly

FOXES HAVE BEEN making the headlines in the last few weeks with an attack on a baby in London, the reports of a mass dumping of 20 foxes into a river in Limerick and a mutilated fox in Laois.

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) said it has been “inundated with questions” from the public in relation to foxes since the reports. This week the trust has issued some recommendations on how to keep them out of your garden and protect your pets as well as how to ensure the foxes themselves aren’t harmed.

Inviting foxes into your garden

If you’re a fox lover, you’ll want to make sure your neighbours are as excited about you attracting them to the area. It might be enjoyable to watch them but neighbours may call pest control without your knowledge and the fox may be in danger if it starts to tame and associate food with people.

And if you want to keep them out of your garden…

Again, the IWT recommends talking to your neighbour about it, just in case they’re attracting them, as above. Culling or relocating foxes won’t work – these animals are very territorial and new foxes will move to the area soon. If there is food, there will be foxes, no matter how many you remove. If you don’t want them coming to your garden you must remove their source – don’t leave out any food or food waste, keep your bins closed and secured, and feed your pets indoors. Also, make sure that your neighbours are following the same rules.

Keeping your pets safe

Foxes are not dangerous to cats as urban foxes and outdoor cats meet on regular basis and fights are very rare. However, an adult fox can kill kittens just as an adult cat can kill fox cubs.

IWT Conservation Officer Jana Stefanova said there are plenty of manuals on ‘fox-proof’ chicken runs, hen houses and other enclosures. “Securing your pets and livestock by improving their housing is always cheaper and more effective than having to remove new foxes over and over again,” she said.

Protecting the foxes

Irish law offers no protection for foxes – it is still legal to kill them, trap them and relocate them. The IWT said the recent case of 20 dead foxes found dumped in Limerick was brought to gardaí, but even if there were witnesses and the investigation was successful, the offender would likely only be charged with illegal dumping or environment pollution.

The IWT said that “as the all too frequent killing of seals and birds of prey shows, wildlife law in Ireland is so ineffective it is hardly worth being on the statute books”.

“Foxes are wonderful animals which have a long history in Irish heritage and folklore,” Stefanova said. “They have adapted well to our own habitat because of their intelligence and adaptability. Greater understanding can lead to a happy coexistence between both us and the fox.”

Related:Calls to tackle urban fox problem after attack on baby>
Read: Animal rights groups condemn ‘brutal attack’ on fox in Laois>

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