Who is the real Mr Fox and is he all that fantastic? In Sundays edition of the
BBC Countryfile programme John Craven tried to answer that question in what was a well-balanced report on this controversial topic.
The broadcast included an interview with Ali Bradwell, the latest victim of afox attack in East London, who explained how 30 years ago, when she first movedto London, seeing an urban fox was a rare and rather magical occurrence. “Todayrather like hoodies they hang around in groups of four to six on streetcorners,” she said.
The programme didn’t shy away from the realities of pest control either. JohnCraven accompanied professional pest controller Steve Barron as he took steps toprotect a school play area in East London. Steve explained that in addtion to fouling there had been fox activity in the play area whilst the children were out playing, so this was not a case of the school overreacting.
His overnight trapping was successful. The captured fox was despatch by shooting which was described by Mr Craven as ”quick, clinical and legal although not pleasant”. Steve agreed: “It’s not a pleasant job but we can’t have foxes here in this play area.”
Covering the other side of the issue Melanie Harper, who regularly feeds foxes, was interviewed. She has set up a blog on the Internet and regularly posts video footageof the foxes in her garden but she denied that she was encouraging others tofeed them. There was no doubt that the foxes in her garden looked fit and healthy, unlike most of those captured by Steve, which are generally suffering from mange.
As well as urban foxes the programme also covered the problems caused by rural foxes. Gamekeeper Giles Wilson explained how foxes were the number one predator on the estate. Again the broadcast showed the reality of pest control with Mr Craven accompanying Mr Wilson as he went lamping.
One theory for the recent urbanfox attacks put forward during the programme, was that youngsters which have been regularly fed by people losetheir fear of humans and therefore see people as a food source.
Pest magazine looked at the topic of foxes in Issue 10. Click here to download a copy of the Fox on the run? feature.
If you missed the programme, or would like to see it again, click here to view it on BBC iPlayer where it will be available until 7:29pm on Sunday 10 October. 2009.