Would you vote for a fox cull if a baby was severely attacked in its home while taking a nap?
A fox cull is being debated in London after one of the animals entered an open back door in a family’s home and attacked a four week-old baby boy earlier this month. Officials estimate there are 10,000 free roaming foxes in London and another 33,000 living in other urban areas across Britain.
Foxes are routinely seen in London running through parks and rummaging through trash. Some view the animals as harmless and fun to watch, while others call them a menace and want them removed. Attacks on humans are rare, but as the animals spend more time in the human world they appear to be losing their fear of people. This has some folks worried the animals are becoming more aggressive, especially toward young children.
On February 6, four week-old Denny Dolan was napping in his home when a fox came into his room through an open back door. The animal had dragged the baby from his bed to the floor by the time his mother rushed into the room after hearing his screams. She found Denny’s hand in the fox’s mouth and had to kick the animal until it released her child. Denny’s finger was severed, but was later reattached at the hospital and the baby suffered facial wounds.
The attack has put London residents at odds with each other over the fox situation. London Mayor Boris Johnson supports a cull. “This sort of attack, though terrible, is rare, but we must do more to tackle the growing problem of urban foxes,” said Johnson.
Johnson reminded the public of another attack in 2010 on two baby sisters who were mauled in their home while they were sleeping. Both needed surgery and were left with scars. The little girls also had to endure rabies treatment.
Others call the cull a “knee-jerk” reaction to a tragedy.
Richard Moseley, from the British Pest Control Association thinks the public is split down the middle about whether or not to kill the foxes. “If you ask the public there is probably a 50/50 split between those who love them and those who want them eradicated,” said Moseley.
He thinks people have contributed to making the foxes lose their fear of humans by feeding them and encouraging the animals to come close to their properties. “They are becoming tamer and people do have to remember that at the end of the day they are still a wild animal,” said Moseley.
Moseley believes the animals and residents can share the space where they live if they make a few changes and so does the RSPCA. Their spokesperson said that it is not typical fox behavior to enter a house and that the animal probably smelled a food source inside. She encouraged people to keep their “gardens clear and the streets free of litter.”
Similar debates are going on in other parts of the world as humans and wildlife infringe on each other’s space for a variety of reasons. Are the answers as easy as the RSPCA suggests, that people simply close their doors, lock away food and pick up their trash? Or is this a larger problem that is only beginning to brew?
Photo Credit: digitalprimate