Boris Johnson has called for local councils to deal with the growing fox population after a fox attacked a sleeping baby in Lewisham last week.
Four-week-old Denny Dolan from Downham was dragged from his cot and attacked by a fox on the evening of February 6. He is currently being treated for hand and facial injuries in a ward at Evelina Children’s Hospital, according to the BBC.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that individual boroughs must take responsibility for foxes.
He said: “We face a growing problem with our urban fox population. Personally I wouldn’t rule anything in or out but ultimately this is a matter on which the Boroughs must take the lead. Pest control falls to them.
“Attacks like that on this little boy thankfully are rare but foxes are a growing menace. Borough leaders need to look carefully at the facts and work together to respond. Better informing Londoners about foxes in an effort to drive them from our bins and our back yards would be a good place to start.”
Lewisham residents are being urged by the council to take measures to discourage foxes from the neighbourhood, such as ‘repellents’ and ‘making sure that waste food is always disposed of in secure, lidded bins and containers.’
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “Although rare, fox attacks can be devastating as this tragic case shows and our thoughts go out to the family at this difficult time. Local authorities and animal welfare organisations have been advising residents on ways to make their homes and back gardens less attractive to foxes.
“We must all do this together for it to be effective in discouraging foxes from our neighbourhoods.”
In a similar incident in 2010 a fox attacked nine-month-old twins in Hackney. An EastLondonLines report on the story can be found here.
According to the RSPCA, foxes are ‘by nature opportunists’ but attacks on children are extremely rare as: ‘Foxes will tend to avoid human contact.’
However, the charity said killing off foxes in a cull would not be an effective solution, as new foxes would move in from other areas.
The RSPCA said: “While some may consider foxes pests, many people like seeing them in their gardens and consider them a vital part of British landscape. A lot of people take great pleasure in seeing foxes wandering around, and enjoy the idea of wildlife thriving in a seemingly hostile urban environment.”
“We would encourage people to use humane deterrents and to make sure that there is no food source available if foxes are coming into their gardens and they are concerned.”
An RSPCA fact sheet on foxes can be found here.
Advice on how to deter foxes from Lewisham Council’s Animal Welfare team can be found here.
The baby’s father, Paul Dolan, posted a picture of his son in hospital on Facebook It can be found here.