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Urban foxes in the news

Chris Packham Chris Packham | 20:03 UK time, Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Some of you have been discussing the apparent attack by a fox on two young children on the messageboard. Earlier today I joined Jeremy Vine on his show for Radio Two to discuss it further. This is a tragic incident for any family to experience.

Since then, the team here at Springwatch have been trying to find out if there is any data kept by wildlife or other organisations on fox attacks on humans. So far, we haven't been able to uncover any verifiable data of attacks like this. There have been reports of people being nipped by a fox - when people have come across foxes unexpectedly - but it's worth remembering we come across foxes all the time and they are invariably more nervous of us than we are of them. In fact they pose no threat to dogs and will rarely attack a cat - and many of us have seen cats attacking foxes.

So assuming it's proved this is a fox attack, this is - thankfully - an extremely rare incident. What we need to do now is focus on how we react to this appropriately and not in a knee-jerk kind of a way. Careful consideration and a proportionate response, as they say in the business world. Millions of us live comfortably alongside urban foxes in cities - and of course they have in the past been stars of Springwatch and many other TV programmes. There are more foxes in our cities than there were - an estimated 33,000 urban foxes - roughly 16% of our UK fox population.

At my place in the New Forest, I've put up a small electric fence to protect my chickens and the chickens and foxes that visit the garden live very well in the same patch. The fence cost me £80. I put out food for local foxes every night and they often come in to feed just 15m away from my chickens. This has worked very well for all concerned for the past year.

Some relevant links:
How common are fox attacks on humans?
The Mammal Society


  • Comment number 1.

    I agree that this one incident, assuming that it was proved to be a fox, seems to be a one-off. It's common to see or hear foxes in NW London, in green and urban areas but they scarper when they see humans.
    Foxes already get a raw deal and we shouldn't judge them all by this one-off experience, even though it was obvously traumatic for the family concerned.

  • Comment number 2.

    I too hope there is not a massive over reaction (although for teh babies and parents this must be hell). There were reports of a similar incident a coupple of years ago of a young child asleep on a sofa being attacked indoors by a fox who got in through patio doors on a hot day. it does appear there are a lot in teh area of the most recent incident - i suppose teh council there will have to make a decision. hope they remember foxes may have young of their own before they start a mass slaughter

  • Comment number 3.

    The incident i recall is reported here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1440629/Fox-attacks-sleeping-child.html
    I assumed it was true as parents apepared on TV at time. but that appears to be it - only 2 ever incidents.

  • Comment number 4.

    Our 6 year old daughter was attacked by a fox in her bed several years ago.
    We had just arrived back from holiday, and the fox had obviously been coming into the house (through the cat flap) while we were away - there were a number of things that had been dragged out into the garden. We were woken by her screams, and by the time we had got to her, there was nothing to be seen and we thought a cat had jumped on her and hurt her - very unusual for our cats. When I went downstairs to get her a drink, a fox was standing right up against the outside of the french windows. She had been badly scratched/bitten on her ear and face. The hospital and council were very sceptical about it being a fox, but we are 100% certain that's what it was.

  • Comment number 5.

    Unfortunately I can see this being blown out of proportion. For example, when Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, his upset and angered fans went out and started hunting and killing rays en mass out of nothing more than blind anger and confusion. I just hope the same thing or something similar doesn't happen in this case.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can only go by the foxes we get in our garden, they are far more scared of us than we of them. If they see any of us come out in the garden they get up and run, they come nowhere near the front doors in our small block of flats.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Chris the very serious point here is that urban enviroment is not a natural enviroment for foxes , they have moved into towns for easy food and have now bred to large numbers . One recent visit to Poole in Dorset one evening i saw 7 in the space of 45 mins and only traveling 3 miles . This in my opinion and the opinion of many other people who like myself have lived and worked in the country all our lives is a time bomb ticking and a very very dangerous situation . Part of the problem lies with Springwatch filming people feeding them in thier city back gardens which like it or not is taking the fear of humans from the fox , three generations down the line and you will end up with foxes walking boldly into peoples homes attacking pets and children , as Simon stated with the roe deer the young can be taken in the first few days by a fox so a small baby that can't struggle is no match. I fully respect your love for nature but yourselves and your programme are enticing a dangerous situation without any warning of the dangers , both you and your programme are quite guilty of dressing a wild hunting animal as something that isn't dangerous and believe me you only need one strong rogue dog fox and they can and will cause chaos in a very dangerous way. I sincerley think you should be putting out warnings about feeding urban foxes as mixing wild and tame never works

  • Comment number 8.

    I completely agree with Cazzer10, I have looked after sick or injured foxes and they are more scared of us. I believe the only reason this animal, (if found to be a fox) did this was out of fear and felt trapped. I really think that this is a completely rare accident and that people should not blame foxes or blow this out of proportion.

  • Comment number 9.

    Chris: Thank you for writing this very considered piece and for your calm and collected views on the Radio today. I certainly appreciated hearing such well considered responses when faced with the reactionary inflamed opinions expressed by the other guest on the Show.

    My thanks too for the excellent editorial decision to have the item succinctly place at the beginning of tonight's programme.

    We have a lot more to learn about this particular case and I am hoping through BBC Nature UK and the other wildlife awareness raising organisations we can help everyone enjoy and live safely alongside Nature.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you Chris,

    I just thought people might find this link useful, it has answers and information for people about urban foxes, utilising studies and science in the facts:


  • Comment number 11.

    Some of the hysteria I heard on the radio today was amazing. Foxes were refered to as "savage" and "ferocious" as well as people calling it to give accounts of foxes hunting our streets "in packs". Radio 5 and Radio 2 both ran debates about whether there should be a fox cull. The next time a child is KILLED by a domestic dog will people be calling for all pet dogs to be culled?

    I feel very very sorry for the people involved in this incident, but one attack (if it is proved to be a fox) is not a god excuse for such an over-reaction.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello, has anyone shared my thoughts that if it was a fox (and I hope it isn't) that perhaps somone had tried to raise a fox as a pet - then got fed up with it and abandoned it? - that might explain why it felt comfortable entering ahouse and passing the adults?

  • Comment number 13.

    whilst i think that we should all try and live alongside wildlife and that even in the city ,as well as the country,there should be room for creatures wherever possible,i think that everyone actively involved in wildlife issues should be more accurate in their portrayal of them.in the bbc news "fox mauls" report dated 7-6-10 there is also mentioned a sue eastwood,s 14wk old baby boy louis whose head had bite marks when a fox crept into their house.this was in dartford,kent,2002.....

  • Comment number 14.

    I found Springwatch's comments thisevening were very diplomatic. I understand why this has to be the case, however, I do think that the Springwatch team could really have emphased not going out and killing/trapping foxes as a result of this report. It was suggested Chris was insensitive at saying this was unproven fox attack. Chris is quite right. There is yet to be provided conclusive evidance that the injuries caused to these babies is a fox. There is no need and we have no rights to hunt down foxes due to this. I would also suggest that, due to the time of year, any adult foxes caught and taken for alleged 'humane' exectution may be leaving a litter of cubs to starve slowly in a very non-humane fasion.
    Think...don't just respond with media hype to victamise an innocent species.

  • Comment number 15.

    I would like to thank Chris for having the guts to address an issue that most would avoid, and for doing it in a very objective way. The primary problem with this issue and the way it is being discussed/reported, is misinformation and false argument. Firstly I'd also like to say that I appreciate how difficult it must be for the parents and I wish the children a speedy recover. I'm also understanding of anyone else that has gone through any anguish such as Shaede and her daughter.

    Regardless of whether or not a fox was responsible for this particular incident, we can categorically say that it was an extremely unsual and rare event - to the point where in terms of probability we are talking in 10s of millions to one, in quantifying it as a risk. This must make it one of the least risk related things to our children imagineable. Every time we walk down the stairs with our children, drive them in the car, give them medication, or even feed them, we are subjecting them to an activity hugely more risk laden than a fox attack. Anyone who has a cat or a dog is subjecting their child to much more risk (the probability of something happening) than that of fox attack. We know this for an absolute certainty, and there is no room for speculation. Talk about whether a fox would or would not do this is not really relevant. That is because we know for an absolute certainty, that foxes do not normally act like this. In comparison it makes the most mundane activity an incredibly risk laden activity. Taking our child out in the car is far more dangerous, but most would not give it a second thought.

    Self-evidently the panic around this incident is not based on any rational risk or probability of such a thing happening again. The reason that so much is being made of this incident is clearly nothing to do with danger or risk to our children. Something else is driving this story other than the dangers. Incidents this rare are almost impossible to plan or mitigate against. Aside from cautioning parents about securing their house when they are not directly watching babies is about the only way to mitigate against the remote possibility of something like this happening again.

  • Comment number 16.

    1st posting and an ardent Springwatch fan ! I was disappointed with the presenters'dismissive comments made last night regarding this serious and potentially tragic event. It has put the programme in a different light. Please revisit and display more reflective comments.
    PS - love the webcam !!

  • Comment number 17.

    Thanks to the team for the mention. Not surprised you couldn't read the name. Somehow thought it had to be a password, too. 122 typing error for 123.

  • Comment number 18.

    I've posted this in a few places:
    Dear Mr. Fox
    I'm sorry you've been demonised by the press.
    I'm sorry the ignorant think you're a threat to their safety.
    I'm sorry minds have been poisoned into thinking you're a savage, evil monster.
    I'm sorry that man provides an environment for you to thrive in and then classes you as vermin.
    I'm sorry there are people calling for you to be destroyed.
    There are those that love you and are fascinated whenever they catch a glimpse of you. You will always be welcome in my patch.

  • Comment number 19.

    Can we please have a formal statement on this issue on tonight's programme? I totally agree that this was an tragic but almost unique incident. Nevertheless today on the 'Wright Stuff' they are publicly debating whether they should be a cull on foxes. Even the suggestion of that makes me sad to the core. Are we to have no wild animals left in the UK?

  • Comment number 20.

    My brother lives in East London and there are 9 foxes that live and visit his and next doors garden. He does not want them so close to his house and has never encouraged them. They will lay outside his kitchen door while it is open and they have walked into his lving room when the patio doors have been open.

    From a behaviour point of view when I have ever come across a fox in the countryside it has instantly moved off at great speed but the urban fox is much more confident. The urban fox in places seems to be a more social animal than the rural fox. So we have a greater number of foxes in a given area making competition for food greater and possibly putting more pressure on the urban fox.

    I love to see a fox but I can understand how anyone might have concerns when they live so close to the house.

  • Comment number 21.

    Shaede, i am very sorry that your child was injured in such a manner. however that would appear to be the only other such incident reported and those who are hysterically calling for fox culls should bear that in mind.i can appreciate that the parents of children injured like this will not feel so kindly towards the animal responsible. but others should reflect before demanding mass killings on our streets. late last night a family of foxes were scavenging in my road in Hornsey (1 or 2 adults and 2-3 young). every time they heard the slightest noise they ran. this seems to be their normal behaviour in North London.

  • Comment number 22.

    In 2005 we made a tiny 20ft x 20ft nature garden with a pond. We have noticed this spring that adult blackbirds (male and female) have been hovering over the pond, waiting for [common] newts to surface and, then scooping them up in their beaks and flying off to next door's lawn to devour them! They also wait round the edge of the pond and whisk out the newts from there. Sparrows and chaffinches have been acting like kingfishers: perching on an overhanging branch and waiting for insect larvae to surface and have swooped down to the water surface and plucked them from the water. In the five years since making the little pond, this is the first time we have seen this [? uncharacteristic] behaviour in our garden birds.

  • Comment number 23.

    Like many of you, the media reaction to this has appalled, though not entirely surprised me. All my knowledge and experience of foxes, and indeed my common sense, says that if a fox was indeed responsible for this attack it was a freak set of circumstances so unlikely to recur I can't comprehend why a cull debate has even been started. The only thing that makes any kind of sense to me is that the fox had either been hand reared and released, or fed and encouraged to have human contact so much it had lost it's fear of man. Why would even a urban fox chose to enter a house full of people (potential predators), and go upstairs into a position where it is so cornered and vulnerable?

    This has bought a number of wider points to mind, and I must say I am glad I don't have to be diplomatic in expressing my opinions because I probably couldn't be. But I do understand only too well the great need for those who can speak calmly and eloquantly in the face of such barbaric ignorance, and have deep respect for them for doing it.

    Firstly, there's our startling hyposcrisy in insisting other places in the world have to live alongside Tigers, Lions, Polar Bears, Elephant and other large mammals that certainly can and do kill, though largely because of our encroachment into their habitat. Yet we are so intolerant that we are talking of culling foxes? Not to mention badgers, some in the angling fraternity wanting otters culled, the many "wildlife lovers" who want corvids culled, the gamekeepers who illegally cull raptors .... the list goes on. It's not a too far fetched extension of this idiocy to suggest culling wasps and bees because they might sting us - and it's certain they kill more people through allergic reactions each year than have ever been killed by a fox, which to the best of my knowledge is at zero. I shudder to think how many urban foxes have been unofficially attacked, harassed, chased, trapped and killed already off the back of this story. And it's the foxes that are apparently the vicious and savage killers.

    It seems to me to be a product of a view of the world that is beyond my understanding, where everything is subject to human comfort and convenience, and nothing has an inate right to be here that doesn't have a voice to shout that it has. Where does this logic take you, and at what point would the line be drawn? When there are no foxes, or badgers, or they are confined to a few reserves where wildlife is generously permitted to be? And is that sop to our consciences enough to allow us the delusion that we are better and more civilised than our ancestors that hunted so much of our fauna to extinction?

    And, like theSteB, I am also extremely sceptical about why this story has received so much publicity at this time. There is certainly no public safety excuse, because there is no measurable risk, and no advice, other than the common sense of not leaving unguarded doors open into children's rooms at night, from which there would be far more risk from cats, stray dogs and even humans of evil intent then there would ever be from a wild animal.

  • Comment number 24.

    Love Springwatch have watched every series. Brilliant and always plenty to learn.

    Have lived in both town and country and love foxes, however, feel we cross the boundary into wildlife territory at our peril and sometimes to the detriment of our native fauna and flora. Should we interfere by putting out food?

    Nonetheless would not wish to see any over-reaction to this as yet unproven incident and trust that the children concerned will recover well

    This winter for the first time put up a bird feeding station just before
    the very cold weather started, I hope that this has saved some birds, but has my role in feeding the birds altered the ecology of my garden? For instance I had not appreciated that birds eating at the same feeders can pick up and pass on diseases so have I helped or hindered? But havng read about it in the paper I do clean regularly and disinfect.

    Actions have consequences. The end result is not always what we had planned.

  • Comment number 25.

    urban and wild doesn't mix according to some of the comments even on this site, not to mention the calls in the right wing press for a huge cull of the urban fox.

    The sun even spoke of a beautiful fox as a 'chilling sight' as it desperately tried to fuel public panic after an attack which must count as is one of the rarest incidents known to nature.

    maybe we should exterminate all cows the next time a farmer is trampled by mistake, or how about a cull of the honey bee the next time someone dies of a reaction?

    We will have to remember these stories too the next time one of the papers carries a story expressing outrage about African tribesman slaughtering lions.
    They presumably too should be wiped with extreme prejudice and this would be completely backed by the Mail, the Telegraph and the sun?

    This sort of newspaper agenda would almost be funny if it were not for the fact that some people are actually stupid enough to believe it and cannot spot the vested interests behind the headlines

    a very sad indictment of the state of our society today

  • Comment number 26.

    Whilst this is a sad and traumatic event for this family it was even sadder to see the usual knee-jerk reaction from the press, Mayor of London etc. Every day we are being told we should be more tolerant of other cultures, religions, societies and so forth but rarely that we should be tolerant of the other species we are lucky enough to the planet with. All of nature is interdependent - if we continue to marginalise and, in some cases, demonise, any species we do ourselves and this planet a huge disfavour, one it will soon be too late to do anything about. Live and let live!

  • Comment number 27.

    I thought response by callers on radio 5 live re fox were a little worrying as over reaction. I am dog owner but dogs causing injuries/fatalities far more common than a fox. I do hope this does not lead to return to fox hunting and/or cull. I thought it worrying that a ground floor door left open anyway with children unattended - I might be overprotective but my main fear would be human intrusion/kidnap etc. Would a stairgate stop a fox getting in a house where there are a lot in urban area? I hope this particular fox is found if it has attacked children, as with dogs if they attack, I think best destroyed in case do it again. But generally, I hope foxes are left alone and thoughts are with the family concerned.

  • Comment number 28.

    I was upset by Chris's remarks on last nights show, he made it sound like these parents were not telling the truth about how this happened. the fox was in the bedroom where the children lay sleeping until they were attacked that is. what more proof do people actually need!

  • Comment number 29.

    dear chris,
    I have been watching the swallows,when they fly away do they go as a family or do they fly individualy.

    Yours Faithfully;
    Kevin ashton,
    Derbyshire. [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 30.

    Thanks for posting this Chris. I was very worried about the public reaction when I heard this. I, like you, see no creatures a pest in this country and really hope the british public can get over any stigmas surrounding specific animals and learn to live in harmony with our wildlife just as you have done.

    Ele J,

  • Comment number 31.

    I was very sad to hear of this alleged attack. I hope that this will not be used as ammunition in the debate to reverse the fox-hunting ban.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have to agree about foxes being very timid, firstly, a number of years ago I was coming home late one night, sat on the doorstep of my mums house( on the very edge of the city so probably semi - urban if there is such a thing) was a fox, he /she didn't stay long,but before it saw me it spotted a cat which chased it. I was amazed that being a member of the canine family it didn't have the same reaction as a dog would normally, and when I got in I woke my mum up to tell her what I had just seen.
    Then just a few weeks ago, my husband and me had pulled up near our house, and sitting just on a school field which is also nearby we spotted a little fox,he sat very still. I stopped and looked through the fence and just whispered 'hello there little fella' and as soon as he/she realized it had been detected it shot off.
    My mum occasionally gets a little fox that comes onto her patio, she sometimes watches it, and it gives her much pleasure to see nature in her garden. However, she uses common sense, she would not open the door to it, and indeed sitting still in her chair her living room becomes almost like a hide.

    I hope that people do sit and rationalise, and realise this is not a common occurrence at all, if proven to be case that is was definitely a Fox. And I Hope they react in a constructive way that is mutual for Humans and their fellow inhabitants, to exist together.

  • Comment number 33.

    Although i empathise with the children and parents involved in this incident, I can't believe people are seriously discussing culling foxes. Why do humans always find an excuse to kill things??

  • Comment number 34.

    Also, the fox wasn't being deliberately 'savage', i doubt they differentiate between young animals and young humans, whereas what is chasing foxes with dogs for sport if not savage?

  • Comment number 35.

    Apparently the hospital claimed fox attack without any DNA tests to truly prove it. No-one can fail to be moved by the fact that 2 children have been harmed in this scenario and I'm sure everyone wishes them a speedy recovery, but Radio 5 have already hosted a debate on whether there should be a cull. Dogs have been maiming and killing children for years and I don't hear cries of culling for them.

    I agree with Chris, kneejerk reactions are never useful.

  • Comment number 36.

    Some years ago I was speaking to a supermarket checkout operator. She told me that her son (circa 10) had come home very upset. He had been chased by an urban fox. The lady was slightly sceptical.
    Whether the boy had inadvertently got close to young or whatever I don't know, but he was chased and had been upset.
    Whilst the recent London incident was on a wholly different scale it would appear to be just not true that (urban) foxes are scared of man and would invariably run away.
    Feeding these animals and rendering them semi tame is surely likely to encourage them to approach humans with scope for misunderstanding and conflict.
    I do not seek any kind of cull, just awareness that it cannot be assumed that they will run away from humans, especially small humans who might be less able to handle the situation.

  • Comment number 37.

    A fox might have injured 2 young children and most people say dont control foxes.

    A man used guns to kill people in Cumbria and some are calling for a ban on guns !!!!!!!

    The Man involved is a one off he could have used a car or knife.

    The fox was in the wrong place at the wrong time and nature took over.

  • Comment number 38.


  • Comment number 39.

    I find it hard to believe that this was a fox, however, even if it was this should not be used by the British Field Sport society (I can't bring myself to call them Countryside Alliance) to bring back hunting with hounds. One of the biggest lies perpetuated by hunt supporters is that they control the fox population. Hunting with hounds has never been about fox control. Here's an article published by the Sunday mirror, The Sunday Mirror has learned that a letter sent by the Masters of Fox Hounds Association to 800 hunt masters and chairmen warns of a nationwide "shortage of foxes".
    It also urged that landowners... should be encouraged to breed more foxes to solve the "problem".
    The letter came to light when the Sunday Mirror obtained a copy of an email sent in response to it by Simon Hart, chief executive of the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance.
    Hunts want foxes, there were no foxes on the Isle of White until introduced for the purpose of hunting. If there are not enough foxes to hunt then the hunt will try to encourage them by building artificial earths. Hunters create environments that encourage foxes to thrive I was reading a report the other day of how hunters deliberately manage woodland areas to encourage foxes to breed so that there are enough foxes to hunt. No foxes = no fun = no riders = no money for the hunt.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am an American. We have screens on our windows and screen doors so that we can leave these open when it is warm and unwanted visitors from the natural world stay outside. If it is known that there are wild or feral animals roaming in the area, then why do people leave doors wide open, unscreened so they can walk in? The simple solution of a screen door would have prevented this whole incident. The way I see it, it isn't the fault of a fox who may have wandered in and got frightened, as wild animals may well easily be in a strange place, but the fault of parents who were negligent in seeing that their house was secured.

  • Comment number 41.

    I really hope we don't have a trial by media about this. This is such a rare occurance. A dog walker was killed by cows last year - did everyone call for killing cows? Of course not.Dogs bite and injure over a thousand people a year, do they call for a killing of all dogs? Of course not. Leave the foxes alone. Sometimes when humans get too close to the wild, the wildlife will do what it does in nature. We can't complain when things go wrong, as we crash through our wildlife's habitat with no regard for them or the outcome. Humans are the most un-important part of the food chain and yet we take everything from this planet. Let our wildlife live free and stay free.

  • Comment number 42.

    I have lived 2 miles from central London for almost 40 ears and for the last 32 have lived opposite a large well kept park. OK my house is fair sized and with my neighbours we have a lot of gardens and mature trees around us. And we have foxes. We have lived in equanimity with them for all of 30 years. They have the run of the garden - as long as they do not frighten the birds. They are part of our fauna - squirrels (including over the years 3 albinos) hedgehogs, house and field mice and the ubiquitous but not seen too often rat, some toads and initially staghorn beetle. Bird life - in one year 19 species incuding heron and sparrowhawk. Really I do not know if I live in a town or a stray bit of country.

    Foxes - none black but all have been scared of the cat or dog which we have variously kept. Cubs every year, often appearing as small brown bals on the lawns at about 6.00 am. This year of six born, two survive, one is doing well and the other is still quite small. They are still timourous wee beesties and I ahve snatched a few pics on my mobile. For the last few years no faxes or sqirrels been in the house. But once on a hot summer afternoon with patio doors wide open we found a young fox curled up on a settee obviously quite at home. After a period of looking into each others eyes - that is the fox and I - he left quietly and sedately.

    Not all my neighbours like foxes in their gardens or in such close proximity but I argue that they have as much right to life as we have, and in any case there are limitations on the numbers that can survive in each year - unlike humans!. There is an annual heavy toll from road incidents, the food supply is not always as good as they want and so every year we are left with maybe three adult animals who roam over a wide area and breed. For some reason mating always seems to occur under my bedroom window!

    For those who would destroy the resent urban foxes, I have a few messages. One is for heaven's sake get a life and get yourself into perspective. If you "eliminate" foxes, they will be replaced by visible and daring rats who carry serious diseases and are truly a vermin problem. In any case within three or four years, the foxes will be back.

    The fox allegedly pictured through the patio door and shown in today's papers seems to be to be a reflection and maybe outside the house. If tehre is a rogue fox then there is a case for its demise, just as if it were a rogue elephant or tiger. And if you do not want foxes in your garden, get a big dog. Or a scaring device. I'll stay with foxes - they do not require regular feeding or exercise and do not leave hairs all over the house.

  • Comment number 43.

    While heartended by the comments by those on the Springwatch site, I am very saddened by some of the interviews I have heard following this story.
    It is obviously extremely upsetting for anyone to find their children hurt. However, in a state of panic it may be difficult to give an accurate account of what happened.

    Witness statements and descriptions can be very unreliable. For example: when visiting a friend a neighbour of his called the police saying at the time of my arrival they had seen a tall man go to the window and then leap over a 6 foot fence - I am female, 5'3", in a dress and unable to leap a 6ft fence if I tried! They had, in a moment of concern, seen me use my friends prefered door at the side of the house and over-reacted and gave a false description to the police.

    Has this been proved to be a fox? I believe two similar past reports were actually not a fox: 1 was a dog (an alsatian!) and the other a cat.

    If there are fox problems in the city it is largely due to the amount of rubbish people create that attracts these and other scavenging animals and birds. Precautions should be taken if these animals are around, also to protect against the other risks such as stray or dangerous breeds of dogs, criminals, etc.

    We are lucky in this country having such wonderful wildlife that lives around us and we should learn to live with it and not destroy it for the slightest (and unproved) reason.

  • Comment number 44.

    How many people on here or who write into the newspaper letters pages actually know the first thing about the topic they're outraged by? The views of these people are ridiculous. They're just looking for something to rant about. All over the country right now mothers of young children will be banging their heads on their keyboards in blind anger about a subject they have absolutely ZERO understanding of.
    One person in the Sun letters column today said foxes are 'deadly predators'. No they're not, nor do they target humans or need to be culled. Yes this was a very sad and tragic event, but it was also an extremely rare case. Pet dogs maul more babies and toddlers in a month than foxes have in the last 5 years, let's put down every dog in the country in case they turn on humans. Why not cull teenage hooligans who seem to find it necessary to go out and kill the first person who so much as looks at them? How about a ban on cancer?
    This was a freak accident. The fox probably felt cornered. Animals have an instinct, it's called 'Fight or Flight'. In this case, the fox found itself in an enclosed space with 2 humans. Much like a dolphin that swims into a harbour can't always find the harbour entrance to get out again, this fox probably couldn't get out of the room due to panic and decided these children were a threat and went for them. There are many reasons why this alleged fox attacked 2 small children in their own home, but it does not mean the entire fox population of Britain are not deadly killers out to get us.

  • Comment number 45.

    Sorry, typing error:

    but it does not mean the entire fox population of Britain are deadly killers out to get us.

  • Comment number 46.

    News just in at ITN that Commons Leader George Young to ask Home Sec to "look into legislation surrounding urban foxes" after a question in the house of commons. Apparently foxes running amok in Hackney ready to savage humans at any opportunity now! see link
    I will certainly be asking my MP (LibDem Lynne Featherstone, in Home Office) what her views are and will re think my support for that Party if any sort of culling is planned

  • Comment number 47.

    I do feel very sorry for the persons affected by this sad story. However I agree there needs to be a degree of sensibility in dealing with this issue. It is very sad the way some persons with influence have responded - a fox cull is not the answer. If we were to draw this reasoning through humans would cull all predators on the planet. The uncomfortable truth is that the human species is outgrowing the planet it's living on. This, amongst other issues, creates more and more competition and brings us in direct conflict with other species. We conveniently then call them 'pests' and justify their destruction. So are big cats, bears, etc now also pests?
    PS. how many casualties are there from domestic dog attacks every year in the UK alone - I would hazard a guess that it is a lot more than those caused by foxes.

  • Comment number 48.

    Concern over foxes:
    My neighbour's much loved pet cats were recently killed by an urban fox. The first cat disappeared from it's garden leaving nothing but a huge amount of fur. A week later her second cat was found in the garden in chunks. This was desperatley upsetting.
    The message from this horrendous incident must mean that any small domestic animal and even human babies and toddlers must be vulnerable to attack.
    What a desperate life an urban fox must have. What do they eat, when food bins are no longer accessible?
    Wouldn't it be best to treat the problem like feral cats. To capture them, humanly destroy the weak and injured ones and then to sterilize and release a small number. Then supply food for them on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 49.

    Is there a reason why the programme appear to have backed off commenting on this serious urban fox issue ? I was really hoping to hear some advised comments ?

  • Comment number 50.

  • Comment number 51.

    and in today's Daily Mail an article about a fully grown man terrorised in his own home by a fox. all very frightening i am sure - BUT still no reason to cull.


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