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Warning after chickens massacred

PUBLISHED: 06:33 08 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

PET owners were today warned to keep a close eye on their animals after a fox massacred a pen of chickens in Old Felixstowe.

Portworker John Flecknoe discovered his 12 black rock hens dead in their pen after he arrived home from his shift at work.

PET owners were today warned to keep a close eye on their animals after a fox massacred a pen of chickens in Old Felixstowe.

Portworker John Flecknoe discovered his 12 black rock hens dead in their pen after he arrived home from his shift at work.

Wildlife experts have been warning for some time that foxes, once thought of as purely countryside animals, are now quite common in urban areas, scavenging for food in bins at homes and businesses.

Mr Flecknoe, who kept his chickens at his home in Looe Road for eggs, said it was a shock to discover them dead.

"I have known that there was a fox in this area for some time and I have seen it occasionally in Looe Road and High Road East," he said.

"But you never think it will get your chickens. It has just killed them and left them – it doesn't appear to have eaten any or taken any.

"I just want people in this area to be aware as I know other people keep chickens, too, and also people with pet rabbits and guinea pigs should make sure their animals are safe, just in case.

"I have heard of foxes killing cats as well. They are vicious creatures, very agile and natural hunters."

Mr Flecknoe said his chickens were in an open pen and people should make sure their animals are as secure as possible.

He had seen the fox near High Hall Farm in High Road East, but there was plenty of cover and habitat locally where it could be living, especially near Brackenbury Sports Centre and the new housing nearby.

Foxes moved into urban areas after World War I due to a change in people's lifestyles, taking advantage of the food and shelter provided in these new relatively large gardens, from compost heaps, bird tables and garden buildings.

Today they are accustomed to living so near to people and there are more opportunities of food and shelter than in the surrounding countryside, with the destruction of hedgerows, woods and wild field margins.

The number of urban foxes remains about the same despite approximately 60 per cent dying in a year.

Nearly half of these deaths are due to car accidents. However, injured animals often survive, lying under a garden shed until the bones start to knit together.

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