Friday, 12 September 2008

Foxes: Friend or Foe?

I'd like to comment on a post over at the London Word titled Seeing Red on London's Foxes.

I don't know about you but around where I live there are lots of foxes. Most times Jim and I return from a late session down the local a fox will run across our path and it's not unusual to hear a vixen screaming at odd hours of the morning. My downstairs neighbours often see them in the middle of night prowling through our garden and when the new rubbish collection system was introduced we worried that having foods in one bin would only cause the foxes to become overly enthusiastic about pushing the bins over (a worry we needn't have had!). So needless to say they make up a small part of our life here in the city.

Now Jo Lamiri brings up a good question: are we, as city folk, prepared to put up with the slight inconveniences (ensuring rubbish is thrown away securely and doors and windows are closed where necessary) foxes impose upon us? Should "nature" and "human civilisation" be mutually exclusive?

She suggests a cull might be in order to bring down fox numbers in the city. Personally I think that would not only be a telling testament against our own humanity but we would lose some of the precious few joys of life here in the city.

I've lived out in the countryside and I can tell you foxes are extremely shy. The only times I got to see them was either from a train (they just love the human free and rabbit rich zones around those train tracks!) or a chance encounter in my youth whilst out fishing or poaching. So I can not tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity to live so close to them here in London.

And it's not like foxes in the city are a new thing, it's just until recently the cities were so awfully disgusting that nature had decided to give us a wide berth. Now that things are becoming greener nature is increasingly returning and urban fox numbers are increasing.

The Greenwich Phantom has a lovely section on Greenwich Wildlife. What are pests and what are wonderful additions to our environment? Who decides? Should we make allowances for those creatures who add colour to our city and put up with the inconvenience? We're not talking about diseased rats here, I can see a practical reason to control their number. And we're not talking bears. We're talking about creatures who are not putting human life at risk and are at worst making some streets a little messy because somebody didn't secure their rubbish!

I would love more nature in the city. More places other creatures can live and thrive. The concrete, the tarmac, the endless pavements... wouldn't it be nice to have even more green oases to admire and enjoy? Sometimes in our eagerness to have a simple, convenient, sanitised life we can throw out the beautiful, the romantic and the interesting. Surely being human is the very antithesis of simplicity or convenience. After all this writing I think two quotes will sum up what I'm trying to say far more clearly than my poor writing skills could.

What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn! ~Logan Pearsall Smith

Man's heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear

Leave the foxes be, killing them just to have an easier life would be criminal.

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