A WOMAN has been left upset after hearing foxes that she looked after for months may have been shot by a pest firm.
Rachael Galea, from Hilsea in Portsmouth, feared the worst when the fox she had been feeding did not return for months.
She had been tending to the animals for the last four years and had one family which settled in her garden, in Military Road, near Foxes Forest.
But when the female fox did not return for three months Mrs Galea thought the fox had died.
She said she was horrified to hear the animal could have been shot by a pest controller.
Mrs Galea said: ‘I love foxes and they helped keep rats away from my house.
‘I had been feeding the two parent foxes and their six cubs in my garden and they would often sleep on my garden furniture. I had grown quite attached to them.
‘I stopped seeing them in April and feared something had happened but I wasn’t sure what.
‘Then, a few days ago my neighbour had a pest control company dealing with rats and we started speaking to the worker.
‘He said he had been shooting foxes in this area and I got so upset. I was shocked as well they could go around just shooting them.
‘It made me so sad to think this might have happened to the foxes I have been feeding.’
One of the reasons Mrs Galea was told the animals might be shot is if they have mange.
But she said she put medicine for mange into the food they give to the foxes.
She added: ‘The public might agree with what they are doing but I love animals and think it is wrong.’
Shooting foxes is legal, Portsmouth City Council’s website said. It said: ‘Legally, there are only two permitted methods of fox control – cage trapping or shooting.
‘Both methods can only be carried out by a trained pest control professional.’