Sadly foxes incorrectly get blamed for a lot of things and wrongly labelled as pests. Here are some of the myths de-bunked.
Myth : Some people claim that the fox population needs to be controlled.
Truth : The fox population is self regulating depending on a number of factors ie available food & territory etc.
If a fox is killed or removed from an area, then another breeding pair move in, so therefore removing foxes just encourages more.
This is one of the reasons why hunters love to hunt foxes, you kill one fox and its replaced by another to hunt again, also why fox hunting is such an ineffective control method.
Due to and increase in illegal hunting, trophy shooting, snares, traps, laid poison, loss of habitats, food sources, road traffic accidents, there has been a sharp decline in the rural red fox population.
It has also been reported an increase in illegal fox hunting, shooting and snaring purely out of spite, resentment and protest by hunters and shooters who are strongly against the hunting with dogs Act.
Without the created myth of the fox population needing to be controlled, Fox (trail) Hunts wouldn’t exist.
British Trust Ornithology survey
Myth : Hunting with hounds is the best method to control foxes.
Truth : Hunting with hounds is actually a very poor method to remove foxes. Hunts are very ineffective and have very little impact on fox numbers. But what foxes are killed by hunts, its the cruel unnecessary barbaric method used that is most controversial.
There has been a number of cases where hunts have actually imported foxes from other areas or captured and reared them in order to have something to hunt.
If foxes need controlling as hunts wrongly claim, then why are hunts rearing foxes to hunt.
The Westminster Government’s inquiry into Hunting With Dogs, concluded:
The overall contribution of traditional fox hunting, within the overall total of control techniques involving dogs is almost insignificant in terms of management of the fox population as a whole.
Foxes do not need controlling, however, If deemed necessary and proven guilty without doubt that a particular fox is causing a problem with-in an area for the fox to need dispatching, this should then be done humanely by a qualified, trained and licensed shot marksman. Regulated, licenced, approved and policed correctly.
Myth : Foxes like to kill chickens for fun.
Truth : Foxes will sometimes eat chickens if given the opportunity but they are not their main food source.
Foxes are omnivores and opportunistic feeders.
Their main food source are rabbits, rodents, birds, grubs, frogs, earthworms, fruit, as well as eating carrion.
If they kill more than they can eat at one sitting, they bury (cache) their food in shallow holes 5-10cm deep to eat later and if undisturbed will return for any other kills. This is thought to prevent the loss of their entire food supply in the event that another animal finds one of the stores. This noble trait is responsible for the myth that foxes ‘kill for pleasure’ rather than food.
Foxes can only carry one chicken at a time, therefore can make multiple trips to collect their food. Often they are disturbed and can’t return to collect their food, so it appears they have just killed their food for fun and left them.
Farmers and hunters clearly know this fact but it suits them to keep the exaggerated lie going so they can continue blaming the fox and hunting it.
Fox-proof chicken coops are widely available for responsible owners to protect their chickens.
Lets put things in perspective …. Millions of chickens die everyday from poor husbandry and appalling living conditions, adding unnatural growth additives into chicken feed etc, they are written off as collateral damage.
A fox taking a few chickens to survive hardly makes a dent.
We have all seen the horrors of the way chickens are reared in factory farms, die and are disposed of, this must cost the industry millions in lost profit, so to complain about the fox killing a few chickens to survive is somewhat hypocritical.
Myth : Some people claim foxes are vermin and pests.
Truth : Foxes help keep the natural balance of nature. They help control the population of mice, rats, rabbits. Without the fox (one of our only remaining large predators) we would be over run with mice, rats and rabbits.
Foxes save crop farmers £millions in lost damaged grain.
Myth : Hunt supporters falsely claim that foxes kill lambs.
Truth : This myth that has already been repeatedly debunked by scientific studies, which DEFRA accepts.
According to DEFRA (2004) …. 95% of lamb loses are due to : abortion and stillbirth; exposure and starvation; infectious disease and congenital defects; “poor husbandry practices”.
4% are due to predatory killings from : Dogs, birds of prey and other wild animals etc.
Foxes are often blamed for killing lambs. However, a fox is no match for a healthy lamb, particularly a lamb being protected by the mother ewe.
A study of two Scottish hill farms found that less than 1% of lamb losses could be confidently attributed to fox predation. A fox may take a sick lamb which has been abandoned by its mother.
Resorting to carrion for food, foxes and badgers will sometimes clean up sheep carcasses which are left in fields to rot by farmers, which could also explain why a fox seen to be feeding off/carrying a carcass, could be wrongly blamed and mistaken for the actual killer.
Despite repeated requests for farmers and small holders to provide video evidence of a “fox actually killing a lamb” , there has been very little evidence provided to back up this myth claim that foxes are actually a problem to lambs.
Hunts make big money out of killing foxes and the continuation of this myth
: Foxhunters claim that hunting with hounds is the most humane method of killing foxes. They claim that the fox is either killed by a quick bite to the neck or escapes unhurt.
Truth : This false claim has been dismissed by a study of foxes killed by hounds above ground and submitted for post-mortem examination indicated that the animals died from profound trauma inflicted by multiple dog bites rather than a quick bite to the neck. Hunting with hounds did inflict suffering, stress, pain and trauma both in the chase and kill.
: Foxhunters claim they remove diseased and sick foxes thus helping to maintain a healthy fox population.
Truth : When hounds are hunting they are unable to determine between the scent of a healthy fox and a sick fox. Hounds don’t suddenly choose to follow a trail as it might be a sick fox. This is an ridiculous fake claim that hunters make.
Myth : Foxes spread diseases.
Truth : Foxes carry no more disease than any other animal. Hunting hounds infected with bTB are the biggest risk to bio-security.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ANIMALS ARE CHASED
WHY DO PEOPLE GO TRAIL HUNTING
Fox Management Conclusion
The fox population does not need to be controlled, as foxes are self-regulating.
Rural fox numbers have not increased. Reducing the fox population would have a negative effect on the balance of nature and an increase in the number of rats, mice, rabbits.
If deemed necessary and proven guilty without doubt that a particular fox is causing a problem with-in an area for the fox to need dispatching, this should then be done humanely by a qualified, trained and licensed shot marksman. Regulated and policed correctly.
Other humane methods which should be considered, are birth control pills, which prevent the vixen coming into season and can be administered through food.
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