The Painful Interaccion of the Red Fox and Humans
Handsome Old Reynard!
The Red Fox Mostly Lives Peaceably With Man
Sad Incident Doesn't Justify Fox-Hunting Returning
Despite the sad attack on two babies while in bed by a fox, we should no more describe the Red Fox as vermin, as we heard a listener do on Sky News this morning, than you would your pet, domestic dog. Indeed, both are from the same family, the Canidae, although they have evolved somewhat differently and the genus of your pet is the same as the wolf, Genus Canis, also including wolves, coyotes, jackals and the Australian dingo, (descended from domestic dogs turning feral). The foxes are Genus Vulpes, or Genus Dusicyon, around 20 species.
This fairly ancient family, the Canidae, began 30 million years ago, and total some 13 Genera and 37 distinct Species, spread all over the planet, although the Grey Wolf, (Canis lupus), has contracted greatly in modern times. These large carnivores require huge territories in order to hunt and breed and they compete with man in too many instances.
Our British Red Fox, (Vulpes vulpes) have cleverly adapted to urban living and have expanded their range in this manner, bringing them into contact with man and his chickens a little too often! However, it is not difficult or hugely expensive to fox-proof a chicken run. Where fowls free range it is not so easy as the fox is crepuscular, diurnal and nocturnal and clever at getting around, over or below fences, which should be at least 7 feet tall and unclimable. People rightly are shocked when Reynard the Fox kills a dozen laying hens in one predatory attack. He does this so he can return and pick up the rest at his leisure if given the chance.
Fox attacks on humans are so rare that, for all intents and purposes, they can be considered non-existent. The fox mainly predates on small prey, mice, insects, rabbits and chickens sometimes. Foxes possess sharp teeth but relatively weak biting force when compared to wolves and domestic dogs. Any adult human would not be considered by any fox as viable prey - unless it was rabid; a couple of attacks by rabid and confused foxes on children have been reported in other lands, but no deaths (of the victim). Although people are naturally outraged when an attack by any animal on their children are concerned, it would be illogical to take wholesale action against foxes for this isolated incident, and especially use this instance to reinstate fox hunting. Children are far more in danger from our pet dogs, as the literally hundreds of attacks we read about each year shows. Many more kids are hurt or die in horse riding incidents. We would be far better off concentrating our energies on the regulation of dangerous dog breeds in our overpopulated world as these attacks by pit-bulls and rottweilers - to name but two, seem on the increase.
The Red Fox is found in many countries as well as Britain and Europe. Thanks to foxhunting it was introduced to the USA and Australia. It is the largest and most populous fox species by far. An adult dog fox can weigh as much as 35 pounds, with an average of about 20 pounds. In his prime, he is one of the most attractive of all the Canidea. He has a lovely, rusty-red fur with a white belly, black tips on the legs and a bushy tail with a white tip. Very agile, the fox can outstrip any dog over short distances attaining speeds of 45 miles per hour.
Fox hunting has been banned in Britain since 2005. Now we have a Conservative government, we hear fox hunting may be introduced again and that there is pressure on Cameron to do so. This would be a great shame, this is a pseudo-sport confined in the main to the privileged classes and it is not something the voters of Britain want to see back.. It was hard enough to get rid of, we don’t want to see special interests bring it back. If foxes become an intolerable nuisance, culling should be approached in a humane manner. Our problem on Planet Earth is our inability to check human increase and how to cull ourselves!
Notes re attack.
They say a fox was killed on the premises. How in hell was it still there after the hysteria surrounding the incident? It seems it was sick or this story needs carefully investigating. I can't suggest the parents are mistaken or worse, especially during their sad time, but it is just so rare for a fox to do this unless, as comments have suggested, we are coming into a new era of foxes in our city centers and they are made bold by starvation.
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