From Playing Fields to the Killing Fields

Littlehampton Academy Culls Fox Family

In the summer when fox cubs start to explore and become more visible, there are often reports that we are allegedly “overrun” by foxes and routinely Golf Clubs and schools panic and call in “pest” control to have foxes killed. Sadly often the fox cullers are extremely proactive, contacting schools and golf clubs and other organisations whose grounds may present an ideal fox habitat, hustling for business. Shockingly, if the cullers have gun licenses and permission to kill then these culling sprees are perfectly legal because foxes are not a protected species per se.
The Wild Mammal Protection Act from 1986 does protect foxes from acts of extreme brutality and states: “If any person mutilates, kicks, beats, nails or otherwise impales, stabs, burns, stones, crushes, drags or asphyxiates any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering, he shall be guilty of an offence.”
However even though foxes have never been officially classified as vermin, it is perfectly legal to hire a licensed fox culler to kill foxes on private land. This just happened at a local school, The Littlehampton Academy where on the 4th of August, a vixen and her four cubs were shot for soiling the playing field.

Many messages from distressed local residents and parents of pupils who used to watch this fox family over many years reached us, so I wrote this open letter to the school:
To the Littlehampton Academy decision makers who authorised the murder of a vixen and her three cubs:
We were shocked to be informed by extremely distressed local residents and parents of children who are pupils at your school that on the night of the 4th of August a much-loved vixen and her three cubs were shot and killed on the grounds of the Littlehampton Academy by paid marksmen you had employed. The foxes’ only “crime” was that they soiled your playing fields. This natural behaviour was enough to condemn them to their death. We consider this not only an incredibly cruel but also utterly senseless act because:
1.      The juvenile foxes would have soon dispersed voluntarily to find their own territory anyway. Even if they had stayed – statistically only one in five cubs survives to their first birthday.  Fox lives are tough and short.
2.      In urban areas natural spaces are ever shrinking and as soon as a territory becomes vacant, another fox, desperate for a place to lie up in or hunt, will move in. Within weeks other foxes will frequent the school grounds–what do you intend to do? Shoot these as well and the next lot and the next, therefore perpetuating an endless chain of violence against these innocent animals? If the development of Oakcroft Meadow goes ahead, the resident foxes will be made homeless and with your grounds neighbouring onto the potential development site, these foxes will most likely flee onto the next green space – your land.
Your money would have been invested much more wisely in consulting an ethical company like Fox-A-Gon ( who specialise in humane fox deterrents, changing the environment of an existing habitat to make it unattractive for foxes to use.
3.      Your motto is “Inspiring young people to make a difference” Well done, you have just “inspired” your 1300 students to become wildlife haters and potential wildlife killers, teaching them that it is OK to take a wild animal’s life just because this animal’s completely natural behaviour is an inconvenience to you. You missed the opportunity to teach those students that now more than ever we must learn to peacefully coexist with non-human animals. Foxes are an indigenous and iconic species with characteristics of both dogs and cats. They are fascinating to observe and can teach us a lot. Foxes also play a very important role in the eco system as predators of small mammals such as rats and mice. It is important to note that foxes have never legally been classified as “vermin”. Foxes are NO threat to children – you may want to watch this short film we created with Professor Dawn Scott, the UK’s leading fox expert: Are foxes a threat to children?
The money spent on killing the foxes would have paid for multiple trail cameras that would have enabled you to monitor the secret and fascinating social life of this fox family who was much loved by many local residents and children who have been watching the beautiful vixen they called “Mummy Fox” for over 3 years. What an amazing real life biology lesson that would have been: Springwatch on your school grounds. Instead you paid someone to destroy and discard these foxes as if they were worthless trash.
4.      You are a Christian Academy and should set an example on how to treat every single sentient being with respect and compassion. This planet does not just belong to humans but also to the few wild animals that remain and are trying to survive against all odds. Between 1995 and 2017 the UK fox population has fallen by a staggering 41% (Report by The British Trust for Ornithology). We have a moral duty to share the few green spaces that remain. The fox does not know that a field is a “playing field” created for the exclusive use by humans. The fox just is living his or her life and has a right to live this life to the end of their natural lifespan and be free from suffering. We do not have the right to take their short and precious lives, just because we can. You could have just donned gloves and removed the fox waste; instead you chose to turn your playing fields into killing fields.

If and when other foxes return to your grounds (and return they will), we urge you to choose kindness and compassion instead of self-righteousness and violence. We urge you to get more information on foxes from experts like Fox-A-Gon and would like to offer our services to show some of our educational and inspirational fox films at the school and answer any question about foxes you or the pupils may have.
Littlehampton Academy – all eyes are on you!  We hope that you may look at the foxes with compassion and will commit publically to a non-violent action when other foxes start to frequent the school grounds again.
Dora Nightingale,
Founder of Fox Guardians
On behalf of the Littlehampton fox supporters
If you want to express your views on the Littlehampton Academy Fox Killings, please email them in a respectful manner, expressing your concerns: [email protected]
I hope that the opinions expressed in our letter and your messages to the Academy may inspire change, if not for this school then maybe for others up and down the country. We are the voice for foxes, let’s make lots of noise, so the foxes will be heard and treated with compassion.

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