Hackney Council backs down after fox cull furore

Urban foxes playing. Photo David Jones PA

Urban foxes playing. Photo David Jones PA - Credit: PA WIRE

Hackney Council has removed fox traps from Clissold Park after 4,700 people signed a petition against a cull.

News broke yesterday that the authority was planning on “humanely trapping” and destroying the native foxes in the Stoke Newington park due to “health concerns”.

The RSPCA quickly condemned the plan, along with many people on social media.

The council claims the foxes pose a risk to the deer in the park, as well as visitors to Clissold House.

But the RSPCA warned the move was “unnecessary” and would not reduce the population of the animals in the long run.

The animal charity urged the council to use “more humane, non-lethal deterrent methods” to discourage the animals.

A petition urging the council to reconsider its decision was set up yesterday evening, and gained 400 signatures within an hour.

Most Read

Last night the council tweeted: “In light of recent concern, we have removed fox traps from Clissold Pk deer enclosure till further notice. Full update tomorrow.”

In a statement last night the council said: “A large fence was installed around the deer enclosure a number of years ago to protect the deer, but unfortunately the foxes have managed to get into the enclosure where they have made a number of earths (burrows).

“We have been advised by our independent deer expert that, living so closely together, they pose a hazard to the health of the deer.

“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.”

But a spokesman for the RSPCA said: “Culling these animals is unlikely to accomplish anything as the territory will then be left vacant and it is likely that another group will move in instead. Foxes rarely interact with humans or deer.

“If foxes are coming into the park we would encourage people to make sure that there are no food sources available, particularly in terms of managing rubbish.

“If the problem is confined to the deer enclosure, we would encourage the council to provide a method by which the foxes can leave but not get back in as well as ensuring that foxes cannot get back in the future - one way gates for example, have proven effective in other species.

“While some may not like foxes, many people like seeing them in the wild and consider them a vital part of British wildlife.

“A lot of people take great pleasure in seeing foxes wandering around, and enjoy the idea of wildlife thriving.”