‘Inhumane’ fox cull halted by council after social media backlash

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hackney Council has halted a planned cull of wild foxes in Clissold Park after widespread criticism from angry activists and animal lovers.

The council tweeted last night that they would remove the traps, after a change.org petition asking the authority to reconsider the cull gathered 400 signatures in less than an hour.

The authority had announced yesterday that they planned to “humanely trap and remove” four to five foxes from the deer enclosure at Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, as they posed a significant risk to the deer.

A council spokesperson said: “The foxes raid litterbins and carry rubbish into the deer enclosure which the deer, who are attracted to rubbish that smells of food, are at risk of eating and could lead to ill-health and even death.”

“There are roughly four or five adult foxes currently living in a deer enclosure of seven deer. This far exceeds the ratio in any other London park – it is the equivalent of having many hundreds of foxes living in Richmond Park.”

“Government guidance indicates that the relocation or release of foxes once trapped should not take place” the spokesperson added.

The petition asked the council and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to use humane and non-lethal ways of deterring the animals from the area, pointing out culling may lead to bigger breeding populations the following year.

At the time of writing, the petition had reached over 5000 signatures.

The council have now removed the traps temporarily while widening discussions on the subject, including with the RSPCA. 

Martin Hemmington, founder of the National Fox Welfare Society, told EastLondonLines: “We have been providing rescues and treatment for the fox population in the London Boroughs for many years and I am so pleased to see that public opinion from across the country has led Hackney Council to seek more humane methods than the one’s they were secretly planning.”

“Apart from the cruelty aspect, killing territorial foxes will serve no long term purpose other than to line the pockets of pest control companies. Nature doesn’t tolerate a vacuum, so the territory would have been quickly filled by other foxes.”

The local authority had originally installed a large fence around the park in order to keep out the animals and protect the local deer, however the foxes found a way through.

A council spokesperson said this evening that although traps had been laid, no foxes have been caught.

“However, the risk to the deer remains and this needs to be resolved.” the spokesperson explained. 

“Deterring the foxes by some of the means currently being suggested is not an option as this could impact on the welfare of the deer. The council is therefore left with a difficult decision about how it protects the Clissold deer, of which it has a duty of care.”

“The council would like to emphasise that this is not a borough-wide cull of foxes, of which we are strongly opposed, but an answer to a specific set of circumstances.”

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