Saturday, March 5, 2011

4ft beast proof that foxes are getting bigger

Weighing almost two stone and measuring four feet from his nose to the tip of his tail, this is thought to be the biggest fox ever found in Britain.

Twice the normal size of the species, it was trapped and killed in a garden in the South East after apparently devouring a pet cat.

The discovery has fuelled fears that urban foxes are hunting new prey after getting bigger and bolder as they gorge themselves on leftovers, including treats put out for them by animal lovers.

The animals’ rise was highlighted last year after twin babies were mauled in their east London home.

Nine-month-old Lola and Isabella Koupparis were left scratched and scarred after a fox jumped into their cot in the night, leading to calls for the animals to be culled as pests.

The new giant was caught by vet Keith Talbot at his parents’ home in Maidstone, Kent, on Boxing Day after they told him they believed a fox had killed their black and white pet cat, Amber.

He said today: ‘Obviously, they were very upset. Amber was 19 and liked sleeping on the front door mat.

‘Dad had seen a fox come down the drive and stalk up to her a few nights before. He phoned me and said would a fox attack the cat? I said - perhaps a bit naively - I don’t think so, she would wake up and see it off.

‘A couple of days later, dad heard a commotion outside and looked up to see a fox disappearing up the drive and the next morning found parts of the cat on the lawn. Unfortunately, the family pet was no more.’

Mr Talbot, 28, who works in Scotland, went to stay with his parents for Christmas and put down a trap to try to catch the offender. On the first night, he caught a 14lb fox and the next night the giant specimen, which weighed 26.5lb. Both were humanely destroyed.

The Handbook of British Mammals says the average fox weighs up to 15lb, with reports of up to 22lb.

Mr Talbot said: ‘I’ve seen cats and foxes in the garden before and they normally give each other a wide berth

‘Cats can usually defend themselves and are not on the menu for a fox. But when a fox gets that size, and particularly in bad weather, it appears it may become desperate and go for a cat.’

He was surprised at the size of the fox, but it was only when he showed it to his friend Roy Lupton, a veteran fox shooter who weighed it, that he realised he could have just caught the country’s largest fox.

Mr Talbot said: ‘I’m not against foxes, I think everything in nature has a place.

But there is a limit and when something like that happens and they start eating cats, it probably tells you that the balance of nature has been upset by humans feeding them and that it’s time for controls to come in.’

Mr Lupton, 35, a financial adviser as well as a keen field sports enthusiast, said: ‘It was a huge fox.

The worrying aspect is that the urban fox’s behaviour is changing.

‘They are getting bigger because some people feed them because they like to see them in their gardens. With the additional size comes added confidence and then they start taking on new prey - and once they find an easy food source they will capitalise on it.’

Derek Yalden, president of the Mammal Society, said: ‘I would say it’s an exception rather than an indication that foxes are getting bigger, although in towns they are bolder because they’re more used to seeing humans.’

The giant fox’s discovery was revealed today on the internet-based Fieldsports Channel - and was pictured next to a boy of seven, to give a sense of scale.

Presenter Charlie Jacoby said: ‘If it took a cat, who’s to say it wasn’t on the path to taking a child?

‘If I lived in the suburbs with children, I would think twice about leaving the baby out in the pram on a warm summer night knowing outsize foxes are out there.’

Tomorrow the channel will seek to confirm that an even bigger fox has been found after a man contacted them to say he shot one weighing 34lb in Somerset last year.


Natasha said...

Murderers. It's your own fault that the foxes are big. You are so evil too kill them because you screwed up. Why can't you just relocate them to a national park instead of murdering them?

Anonymous said...

..What national parks are there in Britain that would take a fox?
I cant think of any..foxes arent endagered, you see atleast 2 or 3 a night.


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