An animal welfare expert has condemned the killing of a giant fox, and blamed hunt supporters for hyping up horror stories to try and overturn the hunting ban.
John Bryant, who runs the British Humane Wildlife Deterrence Association in Tonbridge, called the capture and death of the fox – believed to be one of the biggest ever found in Britain – “outrageous”.
The 26.5lb beast was put down by vet Keith Talbot after being seen in his parent’s garden in Maidstone near the remains of their 19-year-old tabby cat Amber.
But Mr Bryant, who has spent the last 12 years helping deter vermin using non-harmful methods, said killing foxes does not resolve the problem as others will move into the empty lairs.
He also denied that foxes were getting bigger and more common in urban areas and questioned whether the giant fox – which was the size of a lynx – had actually killed the cat.
“There is no evidence of any increase in numbers over the last 20 years. Only 16 per cent of foxes are urban, the rest are rural,” he said.
“The only difference is these urban foxes are getting bolder – they see people all day long, it is part of their environment and many people feed them.
“Rural foxes are probably bigger than urban foxes. Although both are scavengers, rural foxes eat lots of dead animals and fruit which is more substantial than the scraps found by urban foxes.”
Mr Bryant said the Maidstone cat should not have been left outside at the age of 19 and claimed it may not have been killed by the fox, which measured in at almost 4ft long.
“They eat dead animals so the cat may have died before the fox found it,” he said.
“I used to run a cattery and we started to bring in injured foxes and they would be fine with the cats.”
Mr Bryant, who is a trustee of the RSPCA, said foxes were getting a bad name due to hopes by David Cameron and the hunting community to get a repeal on the hunting with dogs ban.
“Stories are being hyped up saying foxes are on the increase and becoming dangerous – degradation of a species makes it easier for people to get rid of it,” he said.
He admitted the Hackney fox attack on nine-month-old twin girls Isabella and Lola Koupparis last year was horrific but said such cases were “freakishly” rare.
“We won’t see another one like that in my lifetime,” he said.
“What I do is educate. I don’t harm the culprits. For example I’ll install a system that sprays water when a fox goes near. They quickly learn where they can and can’t go.
“If you kill a fox another will soon move in.”