City Fox Controversy


In light of a recent much-publicised fox attack in the UK, Fine Gael Councillor Edie Wynne has expressed her concern over a perceived increase of the fox populations in urban areas of Dublin. Reacting to appeals from citizens, Cllr Wynne asked Dublin City Council to address the matter on potential public health and safety grounds.

NewsFour made contact with her at home in Terenure. “I had brought this matter before the City Manager last November, and I felt I had to again after this situation in the UK. That particular animal did not attack because it was cornered. It was opportunistic. What worried me then and now is that people have been known to feed them which could encourage them. They are wild animals after all.”

Some reserve a certain scepticism however, Laura Broxson, of the National Animal Rights Association told NewsFour, “Foxes have a bad reputation with some people, mainly due I think to the claims of the hunting community, but the reality is foxes are barely bigger than cats and are afraid of people, even children. This attack in the UK is very unusual and to be honest, we tend to reserve judgement as in a previous similar case where it turned out to have been the family dog that was responsible.” She emphasised, “It’s only natural to see more foxes in urban areas. Dublin has expanded into their habitats and we throw out a lot of waste food.”

A dog attack is statistically far more likely than a fox attack. A recent NHS survey in the UK indicated that nearly 60% of all stings and bites admitted to emergency rooms were inflicted by dogs. Cllr Wynne’s assertion is that ìinformation and information-based action is needed. We should know the population, has it increased or decreased? Is there a possibility they might spread disease?î

David Wall, formerly of University College Dublinís Urban Fox Project, felt Cllr Wynne had some valid points. “No census of foxes in Dublin or Ireland as a whole has been carried out,” he said but stressed that there is “absolutely no evidence of an increased danger from foxes. Foxes carry much the same diseases as domestic pets and as such, present a low risk for humans.”

by Ruairi Coneely