Foxes are not classed as‘vermin’, and have never been categorised as vermin by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, despite a proportion of people (notably pro-hunt) believing they are. 

“It is generally accepted that in the region of 70% of a given fox population must be killed before a decline is likely and the cost and manpower of achieving this in urban areas makes control very expensive. Furthermore, we know from studies by Brighton University that fox abundance isn’t linked with fox sightings. In other words, seeing foxes frequently does not necessarily mean there are lots of foxes in the area, which complicates assessing the results.” (wildlife online) 

Recently we have seen several instances of fox culls being announced or covertly planned behind the scenes. We have seen this happen in environments such as sports club grounds, schools and hospital grounds, to mention the most recent. Our campaigning ensures announcements like this don’t go ahead, and the action taken by the public in all of the recent occasions has been overwhelmingly supportive of these wild mammals. 

Fox culling has generally and historically been a response to the very rare fox attack and bad press these animals get. Because they can become so domesticated, living in urban areas and often being fed by people, they become quite confident, and humans take this confidence as a threat when in fact these animals are actually like our domestic dogs we keep in our homes. There have been instances of foxes attacking humans or people's animals,similarly to when dogs attack humans or other animals.This doesn’t entitle us to therefore kill them all, as we wouldn’t do this with dogs.  

There are several humane methods for fox deterrence that ought to be publicised more and adopted by those who wish to keep these wild mammals at a distance without inflicting cruelty. This is however, more of a micro-solution to deterring individual foxes from your garden. A widely used non-lethal fox control company is Fox-a-Gon.  

In terms of culling entire fox communities to reduce the number of them in any given area- this is an unnecessary approach to take. As wildlife online suggests, fox populations rarely decrease with ease and it’s difficult to quantify the population in an area due to them passing through places they may not inhabit. Even if you cull a large quantity of foxes,the population rarely ceases to go down and this is partly because they keep on breeding, and new fox families will replace dead foxes. This therefore eliminates any sort of logical argument for the culling of foxes; it is ineffective and cruel. 

In urban areas and rural areas, foxes are very different. Urban foxes are scavengers and will eat just about anything,as we know when our bins get tipped over in the night. Rural foxes have a more refined diet and tend to look healthier.  

We really need to learn to live alongside these creatures in harmony without wanting to kill them when anything goes ‘wrong’. It is unfair to jump from 0 to 100 anytime a fox goes through your rubbish or gets too confident at your backdoor. Culling is never the answer. Humane deterrence is widely accessed in both rural and urban areas and that should be the only present method for discouraging these mammals.  

Amy Schouwenburg

Head of Social Media