London council offers advice on shooting foxes, but says urban pest should be starved first and foremost

Wandsworth council claims ‘shooting is not usually appropriate in urban areas’ but doesn’t rule it out

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The Independent Online

A London council has been found to offer advice to residents on shooting foxes, among other methods, in an effort to deal with the urban pest.

Wandsworth council has re-stated its advice to residents in the borough that the “most humane and natural way” to control the fox population is to starve them, but also discusses shooting and baited cage traps as other forms of pest control.

It has urged residents to purchase dust-bins in an effort to “limit [foxes] food supply” and stop the animals from eating food scraps in rubbish held in plastic bin liners that are left on the street for collection.

The Conservative-run council has been forced to re-issue its guidelines after a resident in Tooting began campaigning on social media for the council to supply wheelie bins in an effort to stop foxes ripping apart peoples’ rubbish bags in the search for food.

Wandsworth council has advised residents to buy their own dustbins

The general guidelines published on the council’s website also offer advice on legal and illegal forms of controlling the urban fox population, claiming that residents who wish to shoot the animals must take care to ensure the safety of the public.

“Shooting is not usually appropriate in urban areas, but where it is carried out, care must be taken to ensure the safety of the public and other wildlife,” the council states.

“If a vixen is shot during breeding season, the den has to be traced and the whole family of cubs humanely killed.”

A spokesperson for Wandsworth council said it "does not advocate" the shooting of foxes or using baited traps, but claimed these practices are not illegal. The council's guidelines only state that poisoning or releasing trapped foxes into unfamiliar surroundings outside their home range are against the law.

In contrast, Enfield council states that residents “must never shoot, poison or use dogs against foxes as this is inhumane and you could be prosecuted”.

Other councils claim shooting foxes is inhumane, and could lead to prosecution

The council adds that snaring and baited cage traps “can be used successfully” in urban areas but captured foxes then have to be “humanely killed by shooting or by a vet”.

Wandsworth council said that snaring is a legal method of fox control but snares must be visited at least once a day as they pose a risk for other domestic animals.

The council makes clear that it “does not deal with foxes” and that the responsibility of pest control lies with the landowner.

A spokesman for the council said it urges residents to buy their own dustbins with lids to keep foxes out of their rubbish, keep places clean and to help combat litter.

“Wheelie bins are unsightly, block the pavement and tend to generate a higher amount of waste. We don’t have the resources to pay for dustbins and we think it is up to people to make that decision for themselves,” the spokesman said.