Town mouse on the urban fox

I’m not generally a litigious person, but I hope the parents of the baby whose finger was bitten off by a fox last week will sue their local authority. Vermin control is one of the most basic council responsibilities, but urban foxes have been allowed to roam free.

They’re an extraordinary sight: a manifestation of the wild, trotting through the metropolis with all the assurance of millionaires. Even sceptics can feel a twinge of respect for this very British phenomenon. London is a green city and the British are soppy about animals, but the self-confidence of these vermin is part of their danger. They’ve lost their fear of Man.

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Last year, the architect Bryan Avery published Fragments of a Wilderness City, a book that advocated the reintroduction of wilderness areas to cities. It’s a nice idea; our lives are all cabined, cribbed, confined. However, there are no true wildernesses in Britain, except for river estuaries -everything else is managed, or should be. Local authorities have for too long turned a blind eye to foxes and legal action might jolt them into action.

After a birthday last week, I’m all too aware of being too tough to chew, but attacks on babies and the vulnerable will become more frequent until fox numbers are controlled. Soppiness is potty.

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