Archive for May, 2016

FOXES UNEARTHEDThe one thing you can certainly say about the fox is that many people will have opinions about it and whether those views are correct, misinformed, naïve or simply misunderstood, such perspectives have served to keep alive numerous debates.

Lucy Jones, in her new book Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain, interviews a wide range of individuals and organisations who, for a variety of reasons, have an interest in the fox and she ably steers us through those various standpoints and the different actions and activities they inevitably provoke.

Foxes have existed for many tens of thousands of years. Part of the reason for their success is that they are generalist predators allowing them to survive in both Artic and desert conditions. But another aspect is the relationship with man, in particular hunting with hounds. Lucy has researched the subject well, going into the workings of a day out sabotaging a hunt and describing in equal detail the intricacies of the hunt itself. The book addresses the problems urban foxes can cause and talks of the people affected and the steps they take, whether they be to kill, move or protect the animal.

While the author clearly has strong sympathies for the fox, she understands the motivation of the hunting world. Lucy’s grandfather hunted foxes, yet respected them (as many hunting people do) and was strongly in favour of animal welfare, working alongside the RSPCA in helping to improve the lives of timber ponies. Such views stand in stark contrast to those of ‘celebrity’ campaigners like Ricky Gervais, also interviewed in the book, who displays little knowledge of foxes, but does reveal his hatred for fox hunters, even wishing some dead.

Interestingly, the book shows that those who kill foxes (for whatever reason) and those who campaign against any form of control do not fall neatly into the two camps of loathing or loving the animal.

In the man-managed environment of the UK, fox numbers will be controlled and perhaps the strongest message this book sends is that foxes do not need to be ‘loved’, nor do they deserve to be ‘loathed’; they need to be understood and respected for what they are, along with the place they hold in the natural order of the British countryside.

It’s how that end is reached that helps makes the fox such a fascinating creature.

Foxes Unearthed: A story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones is published by Elliott and Thompson

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