'Largest fox killed in UK' shot on Aberdeenshire farm

image captionAlan Hepworth said he took no pleasure from shooting the fox

A fox believed to be the biggest killed in Britain was shot after attacking lambs on an Aberdeenshire farm.

It weighed 38lbs 1oz (17.2kg) and was 4ft 9in (1.4m) from nose to the tip of its tail. On average the animals tend to weigh up to about 15lbs (6.8kg).

Alan Hepworth, 69, from Rothiemay, shot the fox on a friend's farm and said its size was "incredible".

He said: "We take no real pleasure from it. It's just what we have to do to stop them getting out of control."

Mr Hepworth explained: "We have to shoot foxes to keep on top of them, and stop them from killing the lambs.

"It was late at night, and this particular fox caught our eye because it was such an incredible size.

"When we went over to pick it up, we were amazed by quite how big it was.

"I could only hold it for a while because it was so heavy and was nearly as big as a roe deer."

He added: "I'm 5ft 7in, and it was 4ft 9in. When I held it up, it was almost the same size as me."

Jonathan Reynolds, senior research scientist at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), said: "A 38lbs fox would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

"We don't know why they are getting bigger, but one possible explanation is that they are getting better fed in urban areas."

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