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A preliminary survey for changes in urban Fox (Vulpes vulpes) densities in England and Wales, and implications for rabies control

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Correspondence: DrG.C.Smith Tel: 01904 462056, Fax: 01904 462111, E-mail: g.smith@csl.gov.uk

ABSTRACT

A questionnaire was sent to 139 councils and 44 local mammal groups in England and Wales, requesting data on changes in urban Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) densities between 1987 and 1997. Of 152 responses, 41% believed Fox numbers had increased, 42% believed Fox numbers were unchanged and 7% believed Fox numbers had decreased. Most of the increases were perceived to be due to increased food availability, and decreases due to sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei). In the event of a rabies outbreak in Britain, the models used to determine control strategies are dependent on having sufficiently up-to-date urban Fox density data. This survey suggests that urban Fox density data for Britain should be updated in the near future.

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