ou have more chance of being attacked by a dog, or even a cow, than a fox but as news broke of the one-month old attacked in London, the near hysterical response was to immediately call for something to be done about this “urban menace” – and it was not for people to stop dumping food or end urban sprawl.

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There is no doubt that this was a traumatic attack on baby Denny Dolan, said to have been “dragged from his cot” and seriously injured by a fox, and it has sent a shock wave of fear through certain communities but does it warrant the calls for mass culls from some?

Wildlife experts, and many residents who think it a privilege to have wild animals entering their urban gardens, think not.

John Milton, head of reserves for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “With increasing urbanisation, an animal like a fox which is an opportunist, is increasingly finding ways into towns and cities.

“Some foxes in large urban conurbations will spend a large amount of time in that environment. They are a wild animal and they do hunt. I can’t comment on the specifics of the case with the baby but if it entered a house it could have been hunting for food. Another aspect is that if they are cornered they are, as I have said, a wild animal and will react as such.

“However, I think we need to keep this in perspective. These kind of incidents are incredibly rare. There are far more incidents involving domestic animals and even cattle for example.”

Mr Milton said that in America they have trouble with racoons and even bears in urban areas and, as a result, take suitable action to make sure there is not ready access to food.

“We are far more complacent in this area in this county,” he added.

“I know there are calls for culling of urban foxes and, although I have great sympathy for those involved in this incident, I want to point out again that this is a very rare incident. It is also worth noting that fox hunting with hounds was not a means of controlling population and is pretty useless when it comes to urban foxes.”

In the wake of the incident there has been much finger pointing and hand wringing but really the blame lies in one place – with us.

A walk around our town and city centres early on a Saturday morning before the street cleaners have had chance to work their magic shows a feast of fast food strewn anywhere but in the bin.

Some people, thinking they are doing something positive, also leave food out to try and tame the animals, which unfortunately adds to the problem.

Speaking about the attack, an RSPCA spokeswoman said: “It’s not typical fox behaviour at all. Foxes will come closer to a house if there are food sources. Then they can become quite bold, but they usually do back off and run away when there’s people around.

“It’s extremely unusual for foxes to attack young children or anyone.”

Growing urban sprawl also means diminishing habitat for a variety of animals, not just foxes, but that seems to hold little sway with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

He said: “They may appear cuddly and romantic but foxes are also a pest and a menace, particularly in our cities.

“This must serve as a wake-up call to London’s borough leaders, who are responsible for pest control.

“They must come together, study the data, try to understand why this is becoming such a problem and act quickly to sort it out.”

The issue has divided opinion but hopefully common sense will prevail.

21 comments

  • Thank you Daisy for adding to the subject of overreaction, it left us in no doubt that the answer must be YES ! If a fox is capable of entering a building, a human could do it too, the parents of this child should consider themselves lucky that they still have a child to take care of . I'm also sure that the public school toffs who want fox hunting back to what it was are making the most of this too.

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    cornwallcanary

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • We didnt all "overreact" to this. The papers (including the EDP) did !. Sensationalism at it's worst.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Lucky it wasn't a badger, or the child could have got TB.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Mr Camer0n Is****, the great gg meat scam been running for yonks, way back in 2003 donkey and gg was turning up in kebabs uk....but they thought it had d*ed away,more like they turned the other way due to the foot mouth thingy being fresh in everyone's mind.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • I think it's over reacting and the meadia helping it along, like they do with the winter weather. Anything to sell papers. If there was a mass cull it would have another know on effect, in that these urban foxes help keep teh rat numbers down, so you could end up with no foxes but a much more tenatious problem. I know which one I'd prefer to have at the bottom of my garden.

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    parkeg1

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • OK so it was a fox that made headlines. How many children get bitten by dogs everyday? With a 4 week old baby I would have thought there should be better security even if the main door was awaiting repair.

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    Christopher Neave

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Dogs & Cattle entering houses & attacking babies must be an all too common occurance...... either that or it doesn't make the headlines because it doesn't happen! Don't get me wrong, I'm against overreaction as much as biased reporting.

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    Julian Head

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Mr Camer0n Isaliar, the great gg meat scam been running for yonks, way back in 2003 donkey and gg was turning up in kebabs uk....but they thought it had died away,more like they turned the other way due to the foot mouth thingy being fresh in everyone's mind.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • The weather was absolutely freezing and the fox was in the bedroom. How did it get there? Did it have a key? I cant think that any responsible parent would leave a bedroom so open in this weather that a large animal the size of a medium dog could waltz in. Why is this question not being asked?

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • no nrg, methinks it's called giving free speech the finger...

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • This is just the sort of apologist article I expected from the EDP and the sort of daft comment I expected from some readers. The original report pointed out that the householders were waiting for repairs to their door-whether it was a small portion of the door or the whole door is irrelevant.What is relevant that urban areas now have large numbers of what are essentially wild dogs the size of large Jack Russells.The comment that they will only attack humans when cornered is fatuous and to be expected from a Wildlife Trust. Foxes will attack anything small enough that they are not afraid of.If foxes in the urban environment have learned to be unafraid of people and unafraid of the smell of human habitation then they are going to make opportunist attacks on anything small enough.No one would consider thousands of feral Jack Russells spreading mange , Weils disease, toxocara,salmonella, tapeworms etc all over gardens and school playgrounds in their urine and faeces. If Londoners and other city dwellers are too stupid to root foxes out from under their sheds and so indoctrinated by the animal programmes on the BBC that they feed the foxes then they deserve to get bitten. Rabies-just imagine the panic if rabies gets into the urban fox population.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Completely agree with Daisyroots. I have seen the damage foxes can wreak, and yes they do kill for fun at times, not just for a meal...ask any keeper of chickens who has woken to find a dozen chickens be-headed and left otherwise intact! They do not belong in the towns and cities, and to encourage them by feeding them is asking for trouble. And as for the 'public school toffs' jibe.....I'm sure some of those 'common folk' want to see it back too!!

    Report this comment

    Countryboy

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • In 2012, there were in excess of 12000 people treated for dog bites. 1 fox attack and we start talking about a cull, absurd, get a grip. No surprise that most of the MP's calling for action are Tories, just an excuse to get their horses out.

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    Crazy

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • As the article suggests, we only have ourselves to blame. The urban fox is a product of our own success story as a species. The fox only follows it's own instincts, we on the other hand, have no such excuse yet as soon as our own bubble is temporarily popped it's "..kill 'em all.." and be damned lateral thought or rational approach.

    Report this comment

    frank young

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Why not run a story on the reaction to horsey contamination of bargain rubbish meals? Surely that's an even bigger scandal than BJ's failure to protect Londoners from Basil Brush turned into Basil Fawlty. Especially if you take into account the failure of this government to accept proposals put before it 2 years ago that would have ensured traceability of processed meat. A move supported by the NFU and many others. Specifically the Tory-led govt blocked EU food labelling rules that would have prevented this crisis. But why did they? Fear not, the public will continue to suspect nothing if Patterson's BAFTA-winning performance of incredulous denial and shocked outrage is anything to go by.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Mr Camer0n Is****, just posting your pseudonym as it should be, delays any follow up posting....you on a watch list??

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • "ou have" - "You have" more like, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy...

    Report this comment

    Frank Fryup

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Thank you countryboy. I agree there was sensationalism in the media-but not from those who call for a reduction in the number of urban foxes. The debate is not about dogs, to introduce that is to muddy the waters.Nor is is about open doors although no doubt our PCSOs would be heartened to see how many EDP readers have their homes locked down like Fort Knox.Of course foxes are quite capable of jumping in through ground floor windows so on the basis of the security argument they must be kept shut. And since they can scrabble over or under fences little kids must not play unattended in the garden . My "over" reaction is more to the daftness of the EDP and those who think a lot of urban foxes are not going to present some problem or other.As for rats, the foxes would have a jolly hard time keeping on top of them,fed as they are by litter and bird fanatics and ignored by those who couldn't tell the signs of a rat being around if you rubbed their noses in it.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • NO !! Foxes are a pest and not a pet

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    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • Did the Staffy x bull do it???

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

  • We have urban foxes which live in close proximity to our house and have never had a problem with them at all. It's like all animals you will always get the odd one that is a little braver and will attack a person but it's the same with other species too. i.e dogs, cats, even birds have been known to swoop on people. And the human race is the worst of all these animals we even attack our own kind!

    Report this comment

    Maggot

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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