Richmond upon Thames is divided over its urban fox population, a South West Londoner poll has discovered.
The poll conducted on neighbourhood social media app NextDoor revealed that 53% of 895 Barnes, Mortlake, and East Sheen residents consider the urban fox as a ‘foe’ and 47% as a ‘friend’.
Urban foxes are frequently spotted in parks, streets and gardens and are a source of controversy amongst residents.
Many people have expressed great concern over the disruption and disturbance foxes cause, with complaints of loud noise, electrical cable chewing, bin scavenging and incessant fouling.
Barnes resident Shabina Baig said: “We have a whole family of them living nearby in an alley way.
“They come out at night screaming and screeching keeping us all awake.
“They also rip up bin bags and then defecate everywhere.
“They are beautiful animals but sadly they have become a pest.”
But others are passionate about the foxes, and greatly support their place in the neighbourhood.
East Sheen resident Rob Moseley said: “I’m very much on the live and let live side when it comes to wildlife.
“Foxes regularly pass through our garden and, despite what it looks like, happily co-exist with our two cats.
“They quite simply ignore each other, and we’ve often seen the cats basking in the sun with a nearby fox doing the same thing.”
The foxes are particularly popular amongst Richmond upon Thames’ wildlife photographers and conservation groups.
Nature enthusiast and photographer Linda Clews said: “I had endless hours observing their behaviour. They were especially active during the day in January, their mating season.
“When they would see me through the window, they would give me a quick stare and take off. They’re very wary of humans!”
Richmond Council provides a leaflet with advice and guidance about how to deal with urban fox problems and advocates coexistence and humane deterrence.
The council does not support or practice lethal control.
East Sheen Liberal Democrat councillor Julia Cambridge said: “Urban foxes must be allowed to coexist with us.
“However, it is undeniable that neighbourhoods can suffer from noise, fouling and rubbish disturbance.
“More information can be found on www.foxproject.org.uk on how to deal with fox problems.”
Feature image credit: Rob Moseley