Friday 22 June 2018

The life of a clever urban fox

Fox News (not about the Murdoch TV channel but about foxes that live in London):

A local fox obviously got tired of jumping a fence in the London suburb where we live, so dug a tunnel under it. The neighbour on the other side of the fence responded by hammering some chopped-up tree branches into the ground to block its path. But a day later all the branches had been removed, dragged back through the tunnel and put in a neat pile. Obviously a very determined, very smart and very tidy fox!

Visitors to London -- particularly those living in rural areas -- are frequently surprised to see so many foxes nonchalantly moving about the suburbs, mostly after dark. A significant body of Londoners regard the foxes as most unwelcome vermin, but many others aren't that bothered. They certainly don't bother me, chiefly because they rarely cause trouble and almost certainly keep the rat population under control.

That said, where I grew up in a rural area of the Australian State of Victoria the foxes often caused havoc on the farms, killing lambs and "chooks" (the Australian name for domestic chickens). As a youth I used to earn 10 shillings (in old Aussie money) for every fox I shot, and I see that a bounty is $10 is still being paid for every fox killed in Victoria. 

The number of foxes sometimes roaming free on Australian farmlands is demonstrated by this photograph of dead foxes hanging on a farm fence. This may upset some people, but the brutal truth was that there were occasions when foxes -- introduced, along with rabbits, to Australia by the early white settlers -- reached plaque proportions.