Aylesbury’s urban foxes: Cat-killing menace or beautiful creatures?

A fox caught on security camera visiting a home in Southcourt, Aylesbury
A fox caught on security camera visiting a home in Southcourt, Aylesbury

Some claim that urban foxes pose a risk to cats, birds and even babies, others say that foxes clear up vermin, rubbish and are a pleasure to see in our towns. Hayley O’Keeffe investigates...

“IT HAD A CAT IN ITS MOUTH”

Les Stocker from St Tiggywinkles says that foxes are 'beautiful' creatures (photo: St Tiggywinkles)

Les Stocker from St Tiggywinkles says that foxes are 'beautiful' creatures (photo: St Tiggywinkles)

Southcourt resident Vasila Simou claims that the number of foxes has increased in her area in recent years.

She said: “When my son was giving me a lift home at night we saw a fox that looked like it had a black and white cat in its mouth. I lost one of my cats years ago and it makes you wonder if it was a fox.

“I called the council but they said they couldn’t do anything.

“I’ve seen them down by the police station in Aylesbury too, looking at the ducks in the pond there, there are definitely more than ever before.”

“They are just everywhere, it’s little ones as well as big ones and I think they are dangerous.

“Once when I called my cat inside early in the morning I opened the door and a fox came right up to me and growled at me really loudly, I think she was trying to protect her cubs.”

Urban and rural foxes are protected by law, so council pest control officers are powerless to act to remove them.

“THE NOISE THEY MAKE IS AWFUL”

Rita Robson, who lives in Harrington Road, claims that a small population of foxes in her area has now spiralled out of control.

She said: “At the moment there must be 20 or more, they are young foxes and they keep breeding.

“It started in a neighbour’s garden, we have called authorities but they can’t do anything. I’m not against foxes but the numbers are getting ridiculous now.

“The noise they make at night is awful, we haven’t slept properly in months.”

RSPCA advice states that foxes howl most in January, which is their primary mating season, and to use earplugs if the sounds persist.

“THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS”

Les Stocker, of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital, says foxes do not pose a threat to pets or their owners, and to live alongside them is a privilege.

He said: “I don’t know if there has been an increase of foxes in Aylesbury, but all across Britian they are going into towns more because it is a great place to live.

“They are going into gardens, because we are quite a wasteful species, so there is lots of food for them around our homes.

“Foxes are really beautiful animals, and they are not a threat to cats at all. Foxes are very wary of cats because cats are very powerful animals, sometimes they even join with cats to eat food which has been left for hedgehogs and other creatures.

“You get all these stories that they take babies but they really don’t, they couldn’t because they are not big enough. If you have foxes in your garden it is a really wonderful thing.

“Urban foxes will eat anything, and if you don’t secure your dustbin they will raid that, but they also clear up mice and rats which is probably a good thing.

“They are not a threat to hedgehogs, but they might catch a squirrel which is sad for people who like squirrels.

“Foxes are very, very nervous and don’t tend to go anywhere where they are not welcome. If people go to Africa they would be excited to see animals which could eat people, but foxes aren’t like that at all and we do not afford them the same.

“They are marvellous.”

UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS?

According to Natural England, urban foxes usually shelter underneath sheds and outbuildings, and have been known to sleep under the floorboards of houses.

They tend to live in large family groups, which are made up of a male (dog), a female (vixen) and vixens which may have been the young from previous years.

In urban areas fox territories tend to be much smaller, and foxes which were born in towns rarely venture into the countryside.

“THEY WILL LEARN TO TRUST PEOPLE”

RSPCA advice says that people can deter foxes by taking a number of steps.

These include securing sealed dustbins and composters, keeping pets indoors at night and removing places where a fox might find shelter.

A spokesman for the charity said that foxes are very unlikely to be aggressive, and can live happily alongside humans.

He said: “Foxes are wary of people are would normally run away to avoid adults and children. They will learn to trust people who are not causing them harm and may appear quite bold - but this is unlikely to be a sign of aggression.

“It’s important that people do not try to hand feed foxes or make them tame, as this may encourage foxes to approach people who may not like them.”

The charity also says that people should not block fox holes in their gardens unless they are sure they are empty, and then lightly block the entrance using loose soil or sticks.”