Fox attack reports rare

THE story of how a fox is claimed to have bitten two sleeping toddlers in their cots is extraordinary.

Reports of attacks by foxes on humans are incredibly rare, whereas attacks on humans by dogs are relatively common.

While, in urban areas particularly, the fox has become less scared of humans and more willing to rifle dustbins and other sources of a free meal, it still tends to be extremely shy of any direct human contact.

Many people (sometimes disregarding the prospect of attracting rats) put out food in their gardens to attract foxes because they like to watch the animals.

Foxes certainly pose a threat to domestic fowl and pets such as guinea pigs which should be put in secure places at night. If it is able to gain access to a chicken house, a fox will kill all the birds. This has created the myth that foxes kill for pleasure. My understanding is that killing is instinctive and that although it may only manage to make off with one chicken, it intends to return for the rest.

We kept free-range chickens for many years and never knowingly lost one to a fox although we lost several to one of our dogs, a Jack Russell cross which did kill (or rather gore) for pleasure and was the main reason we stopped keeping poultry.

Gardeners and allotment holders can find foxes to be a nuisance – as a result of fouling and digging in planted areas.

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In autumn and winter, the time of year when these mammals disperse and breed, annoyance can be caused in towns by the creatures’ “screaming” and barking, thus often prompting dogs to bark.

If you do not want foxes in your garden then make sure bins and small domestic animals are secure at night. There are also a range of commercially available repellents although I have no knowledge of whether they work.

In a survey by the Mammal Society the fox was voted one of the most popular British mammals.

Audrey Boyle, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, told me she was unaware of any complaints the organisation had ever received about foxes and people. “Many people regard it as a real treat to see a fox,” she said.

WITH the new coalition government deciding to axe the Infrastructure Planning Commission – a quango which was due to make the ultimate decision on plans for a Sizewell C – it will interesting to see what kind of public inquiry we will have here in Suffolk.

One thing is certain, it is in no-one’s interests – apart from filibusting protest groups – to see a repeat of the Sizewell B inquiry which cost an estimated �25million and lasted 27 months.

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