What do people really feel about ol’ Foxy?
I received the following comment this morning from mymatejoechip, on a subject close to my heart. I think it is a very worthy comment about foxes eating mammals in Australia. I hope mymatejoechip doesn’t mind my featuring the comment.
To read the other comments about this post: http://thewildenmarshblog.com/marsh-fox-photograph-album/#comment-1018
I am genuinely interested in people’s views on the old Red Dog.
My view on the fox relates to personal experience of foxes living in my local area and is not, in any way, a criticism of mymatejoechip‘s comment.
Mike I am sure that you are right. I hope I didn’t sound like I was opposed to predators in their natural environment, I am all for balanced ecosystems and biological diversity and the preservation of our environment.
The Australian experience is a little different as the fauna here have evolved over a long period of time in isolation without exposure to a predator like the fox. Their introduction only 130 years ago has led to an imbalance that has not been corrected. Part of the problem is that we persecute the closest niche predator, the dingo, which preys on foxes and feral cats. The dingo itself is interesting, itself only a recent arrival in evolutionary terms (arriving with the Aborigines in the last 50-100 000 years). Recent discussion about the re-introduction of the dingo into some areas has of course led to a predictable reactionary response, however it is I think much more reasonable than a recent suggestion that elephants be introduced into northern Australia. I think we interfere with the role of the predator at our peril, unfortunately in Australia we have interfered massively, so that in some areas the only main predators are foxes and cats, with nothing to prey on them. “Your” foxes are of course exactly in the environment they should be in. This article may be of interest.
I have watched foxes for many years, and contrary to popular belief, they are not vermin; they rarely eat chickens, and I think they are essential to the control of vermin. I am not referring to urban foxes that live in towns and cities; I am talking about country foxes that live off the land and not from a dustbin.
I have tracked foxes by day and by night, on foot and with remote cameras. I have searched foxes’ territories in great detail. I have watched them hunt, and I have seen how they catch and kill their prey. Foxes try to make the best of their territories, in terms of hunting – few nooks and crannies, if any, avoid their attention. If food is scarce, they will search out new sources. Allegedly, they are partial to a burger or two; essentially, they will eat virtually anything digestible.
I have watched foxes give scant regard to well-protected chicken coups. Of course, if a fox can get in, it will kill all the chickens in a coup; this is what it does. The fox has evolved into a very successful and efficient predator, but then so have some humans. However, if foxes were really smart, they wouldn’t kill all the chickens in one go, they would kill one and come back for the others at a later date. Killing frenzies are one of the fox’s flaws – nothing in nature is perfect.
I think some people expect a fox to be something other than a fox, presumably because they don’t understand the purpose and importance of the fox. Some people seem surprised that a fox does what it does, and I wonder if they feel that the fox is misbehaving in some way. I feel that the fox belongs in the countryside; it doesn’t belong in a city. A fox in a city is still a fox, though, with all its evolved wily nature and killer instincts; it does in a city what it would normally do in a country based territory: hunt, eat, protect its territory and breed.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with foxes populating cities and towns; they will eat some of the huge rat populations, which must be a bonus. However, not everyone will feel as I do. I prefer the fox to live in the countryside where it belongs.
This is my personal view. I don’t expect too many people to agree with me – I suspect a few will and a lot won’t.