We recently heard of foxes being targeted, and some brutally killed, on an allotment in Rustington, Sussex.  

‘Rags soaked in toxic chemicals’ were found by the entrance to the allotment, in the holes of a fox den on the allotment, as well as in a garden next to the allotment where a young mother had been seen feeding her cubs.

Not long before this discovery, an ‘illegally snared and badly injured vixen was rescued one mile down from the allotments’ by West Sussex Wildlife Protection. The discovery of 2 brutally killed foxes, one cub and one adult, left on the allotment, came shortly after the rags were found, and so it would seem there is a running theme of wildlife crime being committed in the area.

A charitable organisation called Fox Guardians who aim to monitor and support vulnerable foxes, set up a petition online calling for the Sussex Police to launch a formal investigation into the crimes involving the brutal killing of a fox cub and an adult cub. The method used to kill these poor foxes was sadistic, the cub and adult had both been beheaded or dismembered, which has no doubt horrified allotment holders as well as the local community.

Petition set up by Fox Guardians

It is not uncommon knowledge that disturbed individuals who go on to commit the most serious offences in society often begin by experimenting with killing animals, which makes these incidents more concerning.

The Worthing Herald reported on the killings saying, “mutilated foxes in Rustington could be work of a very disturbed individual” and “could be a sign of a dangerous person living in the community”. In an interview with Dora the founder of Fox Guardians, she stated that ‘many allotment holders and local residents regularly took joy in filming and feeding the local foxes’, which suggests this not being the work of an allotment holder but no doubt someone local. Many locals are said to bring their kids to the allotment, specifically to watch the foxes, which is made easier by the public right of way that runs right through the allotment. This no doubt made it uncomplicated for a member of the public to access the allotment any time of the day to commit these crimes, also increasing the chances of members of the public including children being faced with the gruesome discovery.

All wildlife crime is abhorrent but chopping up and mutilating animals and leaving them in an environment that is shared by families and wildlife, is awful. If there are people capable of such callous acts walking around freely, who’s to say they wouldn’t do the same to other animals or even people. It is vital these people are caught, as Fox Guardians state; ‘based on The Wild Mammal Protection Act these fox killings are wildlife crimes’.

The petition set up also urges Rustington Parish Council to install CCTV on the allotment, and to inform allotment holders on how to best deal with a dead fox discovery in order to maintain any evidence which might be part of an investigation. This is proving difficult however, as the police have said it would be illegal for cameras to be positioned by public entrances or on allotment patches which are private land. The polices door to door investigation on the main street next to the allotment was promised but has not yet begun.

So far these killings have been reported to the council and the police, but at present no further action seems to have been taken. Rustington Parish Council have told the Worthing Herald "the council would like to reiterate that it is taking the matter very seriously and doing whatever it can to support Sussex Police with their ongoing investigation. The Rural Crime Team are overseeing the investigation and are being incredibly supportive.”

The petition which is currently aiming for 35,000 signatures has just exceeded the 25,000 mark which is brilliant. The more signatures and public exposure gained, the more pressure the police and council will be under to properly investigate and ensure those who committed such a terrible crime are caught. If you have already signed and want to do more, please consider emailing the police and the council to have maximum impact.  

Amy Schouwenburg

Head of Social Media