Foxes help keep pests down

A wildlife charity is counteracting recent media coverage which encourages people to kill foxes. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) is asking people with fox problems not to call in pest control to unnecessarily kill foxes which are actually of benefit in residential, commercial and industrial areas.

"Foxes are well known for preying on rats and mice and other rodents as well as taking slugs too," said Rescue Co-ordinator Trevor Weeks from WRAS, "I am amazed at the short sightedness of people when it comes to issues like pests. Shooting any animals will not get rid of an apparent pest problem long term but only short term. You need to be more intelligent and look at long term solutions of which some reputable pest control companies will offer."

"You have to look at why you have a problem with an apparent pest, normally a so called pest is there because there is a food source and somewhere to live. If you can get rid of these the pest won’t be present. The majority of the time the cause is man-made, either by people putting food out inappropriately, for both wildlife and pets; not cleaning up around bird tables and feeder; not using proper compost bins which rats and other animals can’t get into; not storing pet food properly in shed and other areas easily accessible by pests; providing suitable habitats in untidy gardens for so called pests to survive. These are just some of the reasons pests will visit and are not the pests fault but that of the human" said Trevor.

"Some times it is down to a neighbour’s habits that pests are around, with untidy and dirty habits, feeding animals etc, but this is no reason why any of these pests should be shot and suffer as a result of what us humans do. Really it is humans who are the real pest with our disgusting dirty habits" said Trevor.

WRAS is urging those who feed wildlife to think carefully about the quantity of food they put out and the cleanliness of the bird table or feeder and ground around where they feed wildlife. They are also urging people with pets to feed their pets indoors rather than outdoors too.

"Feeding wildlife as a general rule is not necessary. It has its advantages from an educational point of view for children but putting food out and feeding wildlife be it foxes, blue tits or anything can easily lead to an over population in a localised area. You can start by having 1 or 2 pigeons visiting and as more and more get to know you feed the more and more pigeons which will visit and normally people then start putting more and more food out till then the neighbours start complaining as they washing can’t be dried outside and their fed up of the mess. The pest control company are called and the animals are shot or poisoned, so the person who started feeding the animals because they love them has caused them to be killed" said Trevor.

"We have had two cases this year of foxes which have been domesticated by people feeding them. As a result both were attacked one by a dog and another by a human. A lot of people love to tell us how they enjoyed feeding fox cubs and other baby birds and animals, but it is this early stage that they can become imprinted on humans and learn to trust them and not develop there natural fear of caution on humans. Unfortunately we end up picking up the pieces or pest control shoot them, or trap and illegally relocate them out into the countryside" said Trevor.

"I have lived in areas where there are foxes all my life and I have been woken up a few times by foxes screaming in the middle of the night, but its amazing how many people mistake the scream of a fox for that of some birds of prey but I bet pest control companies rarely get asked to go and cull them." added Trevor, "I have sparrows living in my roof above my bedroom. They scratch around in the early hours, they started waking me up but after a few days I got used to it and now they don’t bother me at all. Its about being tolerant and understanding, something which us humans seem to be getting worse at."

There are human alternatives which can be used to help reduce down and in some cases stop so called pests visiting gardens, some are available from garden centres and others available on-line. The Fox Project run a fox deterrent recorded advice line which operates 24hours a day on 01892 826222. You can also look at websites like www.foxproject.org.uk and www.jbryant.co.uk which is the website of the British Humane Wildlife Deterrence Association, even the Badger Trust can give advice on problem badgers at www.badgers.org.uk.

"Many people have problems with badgers in their gardens and they can’t be shot without a licence from DEFRA, if the majority of residents with badger problems can sort out their problems without shooting why can’t people with fox problems solve them without shooting - the answer is simple - they can’t be bothered and want a quick and short term answer." said Trevor.

"Nature will not tolerate a vacuum and regardless of the species which is culled in a garden replacements will come from neighbouring gardens within days if not hours as they the competition for food will not less and the area then more attractive for these animals to move straight back in. Looking at long term answers is the only option but they may appear expensive but in the long term they are actually cheaper." added Trevor.

"To counter the comments about where are the animal rescuers for rats and cockroaches, well we have rescued a rat and saved numerous worms, slugs, shield bugs, spiders, moths, ants and the list goes on, but you don’t necessarily need a veterinary ambulance but more a piece of paper and some common sense to rescue and move them" said Trevor.

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Press Contact: Trevor Weeks, East Sussex WRAS, 07931 523958

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