I am receiving more and more correspondence about urban foxes in the area and recently I met with the Chief Officer Environmental Action (COEA) yesterday to discuss this issue and a précis of the discussion and the action points are set out below:
I explained that I had requested the meeting following complaints received from constituents about foxes entering their gardens.
I was advised that the Council tried not to get involved in this issue, other than to offer advice, as it was clear people either loved or loathed foxes, and so this was a highly contentious subject matter.
I was informed that there was no evidence of it being a growing problem in Leeds.
I suggested that I had been informed that foxes eat rats, which is confirmed as being correct on information websites i.e. their diet depends on the food available in the area where they live, including rats and pigeons. See http://www.thefoxwebsite.org/
I asked whether the Council’s policy could be ratified so the public are aware of the Council’s stance on urban foxes.
I asked whether urban foxes were covered by similar legislation to rural foxes used for hunting. I asked whether there was a risk, if the problem became more prevalent, that people would take their own action.
I was advised that the COEA would look into this via the RSPCA, as it was felt any legislation would probably be around causing undue suffering.
I was advised that information was set out on the Council website http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Environment_and_planning/Environmental_health/Pest_control/Foxes.aspx
I was also advised to let residents know about the following websites i.e. The Fox Project and the Fox Welfare Society.
The COEA advised that the Pest Control section had recently become aware of a franchise “Fox-a-gon North West”, who specialise in providing advice on how to discourage foxes entering the curtilage of your property. Website http://fox-a-gon.co.uk/
I also raised the question of whether the Council would be liable in any way if someone was injured by a fox in their garden.
The COEA was confident that no blame could be laid at the Council’s door in such an event, and this was not a matter for the Authority.
COEA to review/update information contained on Council website with regard to Urban Foxes.
COEA to look into updating website to include link to Fox-a-gon.
COEA to check on RSPCA’s stance on action against urban foxes, and in particular, culling; and to seek clarification on the legalities of culling, particularly shooting.
If I was to summarise the position outlined by the COEA it would be Urban Foxes are not something that the Council are responsible for. It is up to individuals to carry out the following as a minimum based on the fox website:
Keep poultry and pets securely housed
- Tidy up rubbish and bramble patches (those are used as daytime refuges)
- Put all you rubbish in the bin, not by the side or, if this is not possible, put your rubbish out in the morning and not the night before collection
- Use commercially available deterrents to stop foxes leaving droppings in your garden
- Make sure there are no entrances underneath your house/sheds