North End residents report 'nuisance' foxes trying to make off with a baby with surge in sightings
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Residents across Stubbington Avenue, Kirby Road, and Thurbern Road report an increasing number of foxes scouring the area – and say the animals are increasingly putting themselves and residents at risk.
Over the last 12 months, several foxes have been hit by cars, become stuck between walls, bitten residents – and even attempted to drag away a baby playing in a garden, according to one resident of Thurbern Road.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said her neighbours had to scare away a fox that attempted to drag away their granddaughter.
She said: ‘It came up and pulled the mat that their granddaughter was playing on. She’s not even one.
‘(A resident in Kirby Road) had a fox climb through her son’s bedroom window at night. It’s terrifying.’
Her neighbour said the foxes had become so unafraid of humans that one had sneaked up on her and nipped her foot as she relaxed in her own garden.
The 33-year-old said: ‘I had one bite my foot when I was having a cup of tea in the garden – luckily I had my slippers on.’
But other residents say seeing the surge in wildlife has been ‘a joy’ – and they have been keeping the ‘amazing’ animals well fed, even leaving out Christmas dinners for the foxes.
Thurbern Road resident Louise Whitfield, 42, said: ‘The numbers have definitely increased in the last two years.
‘I put on the shopping list eggs and ham for the foxes – we buy dental sticks for their teeth.
‘We made a Christmas dinner for them last Christmas.’
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I have only noticed the foxes in the last two or three years. I have had them take a sausage from my hand. But I know it can be bad for them, so I just leave food out now.
‘My grandson is three years old and he loves it if we see a fox – he is made up if he sees them in his garden.’
But now the increasing interactions between man and beast means the residents are having to consider what is best for the foxes – and each other.
Lisa Hayward, who has lived in Thurbern Road for three years, said: ‘They are just trying to survive and this is no place for that – they are getting hit, they are getting stuck between walls.
‘In May, one got hit by a car and went flying across the road. It was bleeding right outside someone’s house.’
And Louise said she doesn’t want her love of animals to come between her and the community: ‘We wouldn’t want to fall out with the neighbours over it.’
A statement on the Portsmouth City Council website said the authority has ‘neither a legal duty nor the resources to control fox numbers’.
The statement said: ‘If sufficient resources did exist, we would still need to cull more than 60 per cent of the fox population to make a material difference to the numbers on our streets.
‘Any void created would quickly be filled by other foxes taking over their established areas.
‘Culling is unacceptable to many residents, as many like to see foxes in the city. It could be argued that foxes actually benefit our environment because they prey upon a number of pest species, including rats and mice.’
The council recommends that resident do not feed foxes, as it makes them tame.