Urban foxes in the news
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.