Densely populated areas like Croydon have become a haven for foxes according to a pest control expert.
The culling of urban foxes has split public opinion. Critics say that the animals are not usually a threat unless threatened themselves.
Advocates for culling have warned that foxes can be dangerous and can also carry diseases such as toxocariasis, a rare infection of roundworm parasites, which can cause blindness in young children.
Tom Keightley, 56, from Croydon, runs UK Urban Foxes and has been culling urban foxes for over four decades. He said: “The numbers are artificially high in the urban environment and the numbers are on the increase.”
Due to the growth in the number of foxes in urban areas, Keightly often shoots six to eight foxes during one call out. Although his culling method is to use a .22 rimfire rifle with a sound moderator, he offers clients alternative options. Keightley said: “They always opt for culling, because they know it’s humane and selective and they see instant results.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “While some may consider foxes pests, many people like seeing them in their gardens and consider them a vital part of British landscape.”
The spokesperson added: “Those worried about their presence or who consider them a nuisance sometimes suggest that relocating or destroying foxes that are present in one part of town is the answer. However, this will simply encourage other foxes to move in from other areas and take their place.”
Alternative methods proposed to keep the fox population low include preventing access to food and shelter. Keightley responded: “There are those [from the public] who feed them, encouraging ever smaller territories with higher densities.”
Keightley has “no intention of trying to persuade” his critics to agree with culling. He said that he works within the law, including the Firearms Act and the Cruelty to Animals Act, and that his qualifications and experience ensure he works in a “humane and safe way”.