Will cute fox cubs be friend or foe?

PROWLING around both town and countryside, they create love and hatred in equal measure.

PROWLING around both town and countryside, they create love and hatred in equal measure.

Mr Fox has been adored through the ages by those who believe the creatures are an exquisite part of the tapestry of British life.

But for others, many of whom live and work in the country and have fallen victim to Reynard's antics, the cry is often: “They are vermin, kill the lot of 'em,”.

Christmas card images of the sneaky, cheeky, fox, are countered by stories of raids on hen coops when birds have had their heads ripped off by the red-coated one, just for the fun of it.

Into this debate comes some new pictures, sent to me by the doyen of East Anglian TV journalism, the much-loved Rebecca Atherstone.

Rebecca, who has just left Anglia TV after a distinguished career, swapped the TV lens for a stills camera this summer, to capture some delightful images of a family of young foxes.

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The trio had taken up residence in the garden of her home, close to Felixstowe, and spent the summer growing fat on the huge numbers of rabbits in the area.

Rebecca's lovely images would win any wildlife picture competition, I'm sure, showing how the youngsters grew very tame in the summer of 2009.

But here's the rub - Rebecca is my neighbour - we are separated by just a field's width - and I am busy building a den for hens in my garden!

Three foxes and the new hen coop are within 200 yards of each other. Hmmm - I'm certain that when my new cluckers arrive in a few days, three set of bright eyes will looking at them during the first few hours of darkness on day one!

My solution: defensive work has been stepped up three gears, and mesh netting is being sunk deep into the ground as well as “up and over” the newcomers' shelter. The only thing I haven't got is a gun turret!

Given all the security, that's where I will leave the anti-fox measures, if I lose a hen or two then it will be sad … but I will never, ever, seek to kill off Mr Fox - one of the great sights of the gardens and fields of England.

n. Send your pictures to Reader Pictures, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email them to starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

FOX FACTS

Red foxes have become the most widespread dogs in the wild and are often included in folklore, depicted as sly and cunning.

They are often called Reynard - the French word for fox.

Foxes are very adaptable and can live in a variety of places. Typically found in woodland and countryside they are now becoming more widespread in urban areas.

Their diet includes insects, earthworms, small mammals and scraps left by humans.

They are most active at dawn and dusk. Usually solitary animals they occasionally group together in a pack.

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