West Sussex school defends decision to shoot foxes in playing field

A West Sussex school has defended its decision to shoot four foxes following a backlash from residents on Facebook.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2021, 11:19 am

The school made the decision to shoot a fox and three cubs after fox faeces and a den was found on the school field.

A spokesperson at The Littlehampton Academy, confirmed that it was the academy that decided to ‘have the foxes destroyed’.

They added that the school had seen ‘increasing amounts of damage’ caused to the playing field including an ‘increasing prevalence’ of fox faeces that represents a ‘danger to the children’ who attend the academy.

The Littlehampton Academy defend its decision to 'destroy' four foxes. Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

The spokesperson also mentioned that they found a den in an area intended for educational use.

Brandon Pragnell, from Littlehampton, was unhappy to hear of this incident. He said: “Personally I think it’s cruel and barbaric to even think of killing them let alone their young.

“They didn’t even try to relocate them, there are so many different things they could’ve done to move them on off the school property but instead they inhumanly shot them.

“Having three and a half years experience working and rehabilitating wildlife, I hear of this so often, selfish people just going out of their way to destroy innocent creatures for no reason.

The Littlehampton Academy defend its decision to 'destroy' four foxes on school field

“The foxes weren’t doing any harm to the students of the school.”

Another angry resident, Kirsten Ann Connelly, of Dorset Close, said: “I think it’s disgusting.

“In this day and age they should be setting an example to their students on how to nurture nature not destroy it.”

The school spokesperson said that the school had explored other options but their ‘choices were limited’.

They added: “We did look at trapping them as an option but, once trapped they would be destroyed, and on balance we felt that allowing them to be trapped and held in cages for a period before being destroyed was a worse option.

“This is not something we decided on lightly but I hope that you can see that as an educational establishment with over 1,300 children on site we have a responsibility to ensure their safety and health, and so we took this difficult decision.”

The government guidance when foxes are on your property states that you may use cage traps and snares to catch foxes and ‘humanely kill’ any fox that is caught whilst in the trap or snare.

The government guidance mentions that you shouldn’t relocate or release captured foxes as it will cause them stress transporting them to an unfamiliar environment.

The government website also states that people may shoot foxes ‘using a suitable firearm and ammunition’.

Fox Guardians, a West Sussex charity, wrote an open letter to the school. It read: “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.”

You can read the full letter on their Facebook page.

Charlotte Owen, WildCall officer from Sussex Wildlife Trust, said they were unable to comment directly on this situation due to not knowing the full details, However, she said: “The killing of any wild animal should be a last resort.

“Foxes are widespread and common, so neither translocation nor killing will provide a long-term solution.”

Ms Owen added that it’s ‘far more effective’ to focus on deterrence, and that there are a ‘number of ways to do this humanely’.