Should you feed urban foxes?

The answer to the question in the title is a yes and no! A slightly gray answer but a necessary one. The answer, then, is to feed foxes if you want to but don’t feed them too much to the point where they become dependent upon it. This avoids the problem that if you have to stop feeding, they won’t struggle. The idea is to feed them a relatively small amount so that they continue to feed normally as well.

Louisa and her fox. The photograph is by Louisa.
Louisa and her fox. The photograph is by Louisa.

I feed them

I feed foxes and I started off feeding them small amounts. It gradually built up to me feeding them too much. At one stage I saw the vixen walking behind my garden and she looked obese! Have you ever seen a fat fox! A clear sign I was feeding them too much. Although they were a family, a mother and two cubs, and therefore I can justify the amount of food I put out for them.

I am cutting back gradually over a period of a few months to where the amount is about half of what it was originally. I’m adopting the advice of fox experts which is to feed small amounts.

Of course, there’s no obligation to feed a fox. It is a personal choice. I feel a need to do it because I feel that foxes are vulnerable as a significant percentage of people dislike them and want to harm them. Of course, there are foxhunters although foxhunting is illegal now in the UK. Foxhunters still managed to kill foxes because they try and circumvent the law.

Fox that I've fed over several months combined with a homeopathic medicine which cured the fox of mange
Fox that I fed over several months combined with a homeopathic medicine which cured the fox of mange

Lumley

Joanna Lumley is a person after my own heart. But she was criticised when she admitted giving dog food to foxes which visited her garden in London. She allowed them to curl up on her sofa!

Packham

Chris Packham, the environmentalist, advises against feeding foxes because it encourages them to be too close to people. But if you want to feed them, do it at “a great distance and watch them through binoculars”. That’s his advice.

RSPCA

The RSPCA advice is, “Never try to rear a cub yourself.” That is a different kettle of fish entirely. And I have to say, I’ve seen a lot of very contented people and contented foxes together in their back gardens because the man or woman fed the fox and they developed a relationship. As long as you can keep the feeding up and develop a nice relationship it must be a positive thing. That said there is a small risk of foxes harming kids.

Risk of fox attack?

There is a story of a fox coming into someone’s home and harming a couple of kids inside. I think this is exceptionally rare. When I was a kid, I was attacked by a squirrel and I still have the scar on my leg. Once again, a very rare event.

Free: guaranteed cure for fox mange

Pet cat?

I have a cat companion. I don’t see a problem with foxes coming into my garden. My cat is allowed outside. But I’ve never seen foxes interested in attacking adult cats. They might attack an elderly cat or a kitten but there is an equality of predatory and strength skills between an adult domestic cat and a fox which means that they leave each other alone.

Foxes - siblings - that I fed until they were scared off by fireworks
Foxes – siblings – that I fed until they were scared off by fireworks. Photo: MikeB.

Story

There’s a story in The Sunday Times today about an entire street who heard the screaming and wailing of a fox cub which apparently had been abandoned by their mother. They tracked the cub down and one resident decided to feed the it until they became adults and then they could look after themselves.

Another resident, the author of the article, Charlie Bowden, had contacted the RSPCA. They suggested that they take the fox to South Essex Wildlife Hospital where they could be raised until the end of summer when they would be healthy and strong enough to be released into the wild.

The other participating residents decided on a different course of action and as mentioned wanted to raise the cub themselves. That goes against the advice mentioned.

Tender hearts

It is difficult for a person who is sensitive to animal welfare to ignore the cries for help of a fox cub. And in helping it can lead to raising the cub as a natural extension of this need to take responsibility and be a parent to the cub. A lot of this is about the human expressing a need as much as the cub requiring help.

Strict advice can be softened

We don’t know how it is going to work out for this cub but I think it’ll be okay and I don’t think the strict advice not to raise a cub is altogether good advice. It depends upon the circumstances and the people involved. Above all else, it is nice that people want to help the persecuted urban fox of which, it is said, there are about 150,000 in the UK with the highest density in Bournemouth, followed by London.

Is it legal to own a fox in the UK?


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