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ICABS defends foxes from killing claims
15 January 2013

In a letter to the editor published in the Irish Times this week, ICABS spokesperson Aideen Yourell defended foxes from a claim that they are not seen in a favourable light among the farming community "due to attacks on livestock".

Urban and rural foxes

Irish Times
14th January 2013

Sir, Dr Colin Lawton of NUI Galway is quoted as saying that foxes are not seen in a favourable light among the farming community, "due to attacks on livestock, lambs and poultry" ("City Slickers - why foxes are right at home in Irish towns", Science Today, January 10th). Yet the statistics for predation on lambs, for instance, don't bear this out, with a pilot study undertaken by the Department of Agriculture veterinary lab showing predation (including all kinds of predators) and misadventure (accidents, drownings, etc) combined, at 5 per cent of all lamb mortalities, while the UK ministry of agriculture found much the same, citing predation at a mere 1 per cent, adding that they did not consider foxes to be a significant factor in lamb mortality.

Meanwhile, eminent zoologist Dr James Fairley (NUI Galway), author of An Irish Beast Book, states: "A great many allegations of lamb killing are based on insufficient or even non-existent evidence. When interviewing farmers, I found that in some cases, a dead, unwounded animal or the mere disappearance of a lamb were attributed to the work of the fox."

The fox is under constant persecution, much of it utterly cruel and barbaric, based on scant or little evidence of its threat to farm livestock, as the statistics show, but like every myth, it continues to be perpetuated, mostly by the recreational foxhunters in whose interest it is to demonise the fox. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who is steering new animal welfare legislation through the Oireachtas, buys into this myth also, exempting foxhunting from the cruelty provisions of the Act. He won't even concede to ban the horrific practice of digging out foxes from their earths and setting terriers on them, resulting in horrific injuries to both dog and fox.

He should be mindful of the fact that the vast majority of people, as outlined in John Holden's article, view the fox with affection and don't want to see it harmed.

Aideen Yourell,
Irish Council Against Blood Sports,
Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

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