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  • I first published this Blog for Innovate My School in

    Urban fox activity in London schools is on the increase. Problems occur when foxes start persistently fouling, urinating, damaging property and harbouring underneath classrooms or even in roof voids above classrooms.

    The main risk of having fox activity around a school is the risk of disease transmission. As foxes are part of the dog family, they can harbour many contagious diseases. Most foxes will carry external parasites such as fleas and ticks; but the most common disease which foxes are most likely to transmit to man is Toxocariasis (Roundworm).

    Unlike domestic pets, foxes are not routinely de-wormed or treated against parasites or immunised against disease. Toxocariasis is caused by a parasitic roundworm in the fox, namely Toxocara canis. Toxocara can cause blindness in young children.

     

     

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    Human’s become infected following the ingestion of Roundworm eggs in the soil contaminated by fox faeces. The appeal to young children to place objects in their mouths and immature hygiene behaviour puts them at particular risk for picking up roundworm eggs. Fox faeces found in the playground, sports field or pathways should be immediately removed when found and contaminated surfaces disinfected. Gloves and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment should be worn at all times. Children should always be encouraged to wash their hands before eating.

    Foxes carry many other notifiable diseases that can infect both native wildlife and domestic animals including Hydatids, Distemper, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Canine hepatitis, Lungworm, Heart worm and Sarcopic mange. Urban foxes will eat almost anything. Rubbish and left-overs may be found throughout the school grounds in the morning. Being opportunistic; urban foxes will take smaller pets such as chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and tortoises; all of which are regularly kept at schools.

    It is well noted that urban foxes are becoming much bolder and tamer. This is partly due to the foxes living in such close proximity to us and the abundance of food available to them. Feeding urban foxes is strongly discouraged.

    It must always be remembered that urban foxes are wild animals and extremely unpredictable. The uses of ‘fox’ deterrents and approved chemical products have limited usage. Urban foxes quickly become accustomed to deterrent devises and approved deterrent chemicals and will eventually ignore them. Urban foxes are losing their fear of humans and do not look upon us as a direct threat.

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    I am often asked about the use of Fox Repellents in an urban environment to repel nuisance urban foxes.

    Urban foxes particularly in London are born into an environment where there are a vast amounts of different noises, sounds, senses, smells, flashing lights etc.

    The fox cub's become immediately accustom to their new surrounding and will presume that all is 'normal' which includes the above.

    This will mainly be down to the flashing lights, different noises and smells will pose NO physical threat to them or their group.

    Repellents are quickly ignored by cautious foxes realising they are not harmful.

    I was called to a house in Chigwell a few years ago where he owner had purchased a motion sensor water squirter to scare the foxes away that were persistently digging up his prize lawn.

    The crafty urban foxes realised (in the middle of a hot summer) that the random squirts if water would cause no physical harms and deliberately triggered the motion sensor to imit cold water to cool off.

    If you do decide to use a chemical repellent usually obtained over the net or garden centre; make sure you READ THE LABEL before mixing and applying.

    It should also be noted that most chemical fox repellent's aim is to mimic other foxes; so that the nuisance foxes are lead to believe that a new fox is on the block and they should move off.

    Beware.....................................

    The problem with this is that the current resident foxes will think that another fox is trying to 'muscle-in' on their area and therefore activity may be increased making the use of a repellent that mimics other foxes counter-productive.

    Due to the fact that urban foxes live in such close proximity to one another; territorial behaviour is not so common as opposed to their 'country-cousins'.

    Only UK repellents are allowed to be used. Diesel, engine oil, chilli powder, garlic powder etc are NOT approved repellents and could cause serious harm and suffering to foxes and other domestic pets and wildlife.

    If at all in doubt, seek professional help or give me a call.

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    A very warm welcome to January 2015 Blog 1.

    It has been a very busy start to the New Year having spent most of Christmas and the New Year in London School's over the close down that had been having issues with persistent Urban Fox activity. Last week I was called to a Primary School in Manor Park when a fox was noticed to be trapped on a flat roof with a pitched roof surrounding it. The fox had naturally ran out of steam having made numerous attempts to escape and was totally exhausted. Using my dog handlers pole and carry cage I managed to safely extract it and release it nearby. This release was carried out under exceptional circumstance and would not at all contravene The Animal Welfare Act 2006. The trapping and 'relocation' of urban foxes would almost certainly contravene The Animals Welfare Act due to causing unnecessary stress and suffering. This type of unprofessional behaviour is also not appropriate in  terms of disease management. Other activities carried out this month include heavy duty brush cutting in order to manage overgrown habitat attracting urban foxes to harbour close to a Residential Care Home and various Survey Inspections to Schools, Universities and Construction Sites around London & Essex UK. I am looking forward to the PESTEX Exhibition in March 2015 where I will be on stand 68 promoting my services. Please make a point to visit and meet me.

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