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Urban Foxes/Rural Legend


Gone But Not Forgotten
Feb 26, 2002
Out-of-Place Foxes

BBC Radio 4's "Farming Today" programme on Tuesday 19th March, contained a short article on "out-of-place" foxes.

It seems that Scottish farmers have been encountering numbers of "dazed, disoriented-looking" foxes, when out "lamping" (hunting foxes by night). One farmer said that he had encountered "thirty or more" foxes in one field. He said that these foxes looked "different" to the local wild foxes, and he postulated the theory that someone was "dumping" urban foxes into the wild, maybe an animal charity.
I gathered from what the farmers said that the strange foxes looked somewhat pale and undernourished. I would have thought that any urban fox would have been well fed on burgers, fish & Chips and household scraps etc.

Foxes are territorial animals, so one wouldn't expect to find large numbers in a gathering (unless they were holding an animal court!)...What is going on?

I'm sure you will agree that the story has all the ingredients of an excellent Fortean mystery. Imyself am inclined to think that unscrupulous huntsmen whose sport was recently banned in Scotland, have been dumping foxes secretly bred for hunting.

Can anyone shed more light on this fascinating story?
No animal charity worth it's salt would do this. Much more likely to be huntsmen.
The poor foxes are probably stunned and confused because they are able to walk about without a bunch of horty torty rich folk chasing them on horses blowing trumpets and then finally making their pack of beagle dogs rip them to shreads.
If you ask me fox hunters deserve to be thrown into a pack of hungry wolves, those poor foxes dont deserve to be tortured in that way. I actually saw a report on fox hunting which had evidence that a lot of foxes actually die before they are caught because they take massive heart attacks and die. I hope those rich people crash their lexus's on the way back home to their mansions.
It's a mystery. Unless someone didn't like having foxes raking through their dustbins and dumped them in the country, but that would only account for the odd animal, not a huge bunch of them. They look so cute but they can be evil little buggers . . . I don't mind the idea of urban foxes, apart from potential danger to my pussy-cats, which is why I like to keep them in at night, just in case . . .


Wheelie-bins have put paid to many of the urban fox colonies, as is now evidenced by the urban hare that is currently grazing outside my home office window.

BTW A fox would not tackle a healthy adult cat, any more than a medium sized dog would, or if it did, it wouldn't do it more than once. IF yr a betting lady, I'd put a shilling on the cat :) the biggest risk to the feline population is either disease, which isnt prevalent, or poisoning to try and control an urban fox population...

Thanks Harlequin, you've set my mind at rest. Mind you, my two moggies are out and out wusses when it comes to the crunch, so any meeting with a fox would send them fleeing for the safety of home.

Carole, is that cat your cat in your sig? I have 2 cats altho they arent outdoor cats i have seen how they react around dogs and and dog or fox that came near them would think twice before it did it again. They are like little tigers i swear
No, tang, I'm not technically advanced enough to put my own mog on my sig . . . I said my 2 were wusses, but it's surprising how they will defend themselves when necessary.

If they are scared and arent declawed they will tear any fox or dogs face and ears to shreads. Ive seen this done to my old pet jack russell. Her ear was almost torn in two, needless to say after that encounter she thought twice about going near any cats.

I just had a thought about the Fox's turing up, perhaps they could be put there by fox hunters in an attempt to strengthen the "they are a pest" excuse for killing these poor creatures and maybe reinstate the power to hunt them. Im sure sympathy for the fox's would be less if your town was infested with them. Just a thought
Foxes are shy by nature,and nocturnal hunters.
When I was a child I was afraid of gators and cougars getting into the yard.
Am I still?

You betcha!

There's nowhere for pumas to hide anymore so they calmly coexist with us sharing the same space--eating a few strays now and then.

Gators--well--they're shy too.What you've got to look out for are the crocs.
They're not shy at all.

Both Pumas and Crocs can be some kind of nasty lil bitches when they're hungry.
Gators and Foxes ought to be the least of your worries---At least where I live.

Hell I grew up reading the banks of creeks,streams,ponds,lakes and rivers for crocodile sign.
If you saw croc sign be careful-but swin amyway if it was fresh don't get close to the water's edge.Don't even dip your toes in!

Am I babbling?
Yes I guess I am.
Cheerio Mates!!
H'mm, I don't think I'd argue with a cougar that was sorting through my dustbin for scraps, I'd just firmly close the door and let it get on with it!

No,what you do when that happens is pull me half asleep out of my bed-give me a the broom and push me outsdide tellingme where it is and to shoo it away.

It's my job to sigh, walk over to it shout and growl loudly and scare the bastard away.
If it's really hungry it will fight me for it and I will have to run back inside like a little girl.

Naw,seriously--just do the same as you would a bear,deer or sascouatch.
Run out there waving a big weapon and screaming like a maniac and they'll wonder if it's contagious and run away.
Aliant said:
Naw,seriously--just do the same as you would a bear,deer or sascouatch.

Surely with a sasquatch you just get your camera out. As it is camera shy it'll just bugger off.
Surely with a sasquatch you just get your camera out. As it is camera shy it'll just bugger off.
Not around here.
Down here he'll pose for pictures with ya.
Then he'll break your camera and gut you.

No, cameras are a bad idea.
Just run out there acting like you got into some bad water or something.
One of the local papers here has just had a letter sent in from the RSPCA assuring people that they do not dump mangy city foxes in the countryside , apparently it is a rumour put about by 'Countryside Alliance' types to discredit antis . The RSPCA say they release foxes back to the same map refence where they were found .
A few months back the same paper had a letter from a farmer who had been shown special earths where foxes were bred for the hunt - the people who showed him thought because his family had been farming for centuries that he would be pro hunting - he was disgusted,it is such a myth that the majority of countryside people want hunts to continue , most country people can't stand that bunch of hoorays.going about mashing up people's land,even if they have been asked not to .
Your thoughts echo mine Marion. Remember the hoo-ha raised by the UK shooting lobby prior to the implementation of the Hand Gun Bill (massive job losses, anarchy on the streets by protestors etc)?
Reality was, of course, that it was all bluster, rhetoric and lies from right wing agitators.

Still, the fortean in me cannot rest until the riddle of out-of-place foxes is solved (although a little part of me hopes that some mystery will remain).
Foxes and cats

A fox cant afford to try to attack a healthy cat as it has to be in good shape to make a living. I've seen my cats playing with foxes, also I see about six or so foxes each night around town, and all look very healthy, lots of chips and kebabs!

There are NO morphological differences between 'urban' & rural foxes. NO aminal welfare organisation, local authority pest control dept., or crusty animal rights types has ever released foxes caught in cities into the countryside. This UL keeps going though. I don't know if it tends to come to prominence when banning hunting is in the news or what, but its a resilient little beggar!

It seems to be rooted in the predjudices of some exceptionally redneck rural 'get orf moi larnd' types. I guess it provides support for their paranoid whinging that 'townies' are always looking for some way to do down the yeomen of England.

As for cats and foxes, although its true that in general they coexist peacefully enough, they can get into fights. I've had a cat treated for injuries which the vet suspected might be from a fox, though how you could tell fox from dog injuries, I don't know.

Incidentally, my experience is that you're much more likely to see foxes in urban than rural areas. A similar observation led to a correspondent to R4's PM programme suggesting that if hunting is about controlling fox populations, it should be carried out in the cities!

Actually, there's some evidence that fox litter sizes are population density related, so all killing some in an area does is increase the numbers in the next generation. But I digress, and we're all on our best behaviour now:)
out of place foxes

2 of my mates who live in Tasmania,have recently seen foxes .Previously foxes have been restricted to the mainland,and now they are in virgin territory.In the late 1800's the thylacines were knocked around with a disease that was supposed to resemble distemper(comming from dogs).What new little microbial persents will the foxes bring?Will this be the final death nell for the thylacine,through disease and competition for food resources?The potential to also decimate the Tasmanian Devil as well is also inherant.These animals are as welcome to us as kangaroos hopping around your golf courses are to you.
A couple of years ago wildman we had a documentary about the continued existance of the Tasmanian tiger, shown over here in the UK.

One exhibit was a film, from several years ago, purporting to show the aforementioned Tasmanian tiger, which was then dismissed as being a fox with mange!!!!

So how the Hell can that claim be made, if you have only JUST got fox's in Tasmania?????
I've heard of them still hanging around,thre was even some video footage
(where did that go MIB,huh where?)

I'd like to see one. they scared the $h!# out of me when I was a kid.
(laughs at himself)
Now that I'm all grown up(huhuh)I want to go beat up everything that ever scared me--even my bastard father--that ass, him.

I am WAY off topic.
Aliant said:
It's canine why is it called a tiger?

"Logic" of first European discoverer:- "It's got stripes so QED it must be a tiger".

Second "logical" thought: "As it's a tiger don't go near it".

And if none of the above apply, it still makes the explorer sound more intrepid to have found a tiger, even if it really looks just like a funny sort of dog!!!!!:D
It was also known as a tasmanian Wolf, but yeah the stripes would be why it was known as a tiger. There is supposidly another tiger that lives in Australia known as the Queensland tiger, i did have a picture of it but i lost it. Some people say its a cat and others say it is a marsupial. I would say that it is more likely to be a marsupial simply because there are no cats in Aus but the picture of the Queensland tiger was quite clear and whatever it was it definately wasnt a thylacine.
Wildman should know cos hes the Australian Cryptid expert around these parts.
Tasmanian Fox would be better. While it looks a lot more like a wolf than a tiger, a thylacine and a Red Fox look a lot more similar to each other (to me) than even a wolf and a fox.

One of the urban foxes near me has no hair on its tail (not sure if its mange or just old age, hes quite a fat fox and runs with stiff-looking back legs like an elderly dog so I imagine hes the grizzled old patriarch of the pack), and in silhouette he looks a hell of a lot like a thylacine.

BTW, wasnt that film footage of a supposed thylacine not in Tasmania, but somewhere in northern Australia (possibly near where the real "tigers", ie Aussie ABC`s, are usually reported)?
Back to the displaced foxes, a friend of mine in North Wales runs a feed merchants and he delivers to farmers all over North Wales. One of the farmers he delivers to showed him a bin full of dead, emaciated foxes which he claimed were urban foxes dumped on his land by some misguided animal rights person.

Maybe a UL but I've got a witness so there!
Urban Foxes/Rural Legend (new?)

From today's Sunday Times letters page:

OUTFOXED: The claim that there is an "epidemic" of urban fox dumping in the countryside is nothing but a rural myth, which emerges every time there is a move in parliament to ban foxhunting. I have investigated dozens of such claims over the past two decades, latterly as a professional urban fox consultant. Most reports involve mysterious white or blue vans releasing amazingly precise numbers of foxes - but strangely, nobody has obtained even a single letter or number from a vehicle registration plate. I have offered a £500 reward for information leading to the identification of any such person or group. Nobody has ever claimed the reward. I repeat the offer.

John Bryant
Humane Urban Wildlife Deterrence
London SE18
Not one I'd ever heard before. But is it an urban legend or a rural one? :)
Long-established as a regular visitor to the UK's suburban rubbish bins and gardens, there is an increasing need for control of urban foxes, just as much as there has always been a need for fox control in the countryside.

One unacceptable side of urban fox control is the practice of 'fox dumping' in which foxes are trapped, loaded into vans and driven out of town and released.

The Union of Country Sports Workers (UCSW) has long been aware of the existence of this practice, with evidence from its members including the interception of a vehicle containing foxes which were said by the driver to number about 40. He was trying to dump them in East Anglia, allegedly having transported them from Bristol.

Another example involved a 'keeper discovering an equally large number of foxes dumped on his employer's estate - he went to get his rifle and returned to where they'd been left only to find them standing around in a group unsure of what to do in such an unfamiliar environment.

The UCSW is now seeking to establish the extent of the practice and is looking for the help of shoot managers and gamekeepers.

Lindsay Hill, from the UCSW, was adamant that these people would be vital in sourcing important evidence.

She told ST: 'So much of this is reliant on first-hand experience, for example, I took a call yesterday from someone on one estate who had shot a vixen that was in beautiful condition - apart from the fact that it had recently had a leg amputated and the suture marks were still showing.'

If you can help, the UCSW would like to hear from you - confidentiality is assured.

Information which would be useful to know includes: where and when this took place, what time of day or night it was, whether you saw any vehicles, whether you saw any people, if it was in a very rural area or on the outskirts of a town or village, how many foxes you saw, what condition they were in; did you take any action - shoot them, report to the authorities etc and did you take any photographs?

Send any information to UCSW, PO Box 129, Oxfordshire 0X17 2HX, or tel (01588) 630489.
From: Country Life