SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • culling;
  • fox hunting;
  • questionnaire survey;
  • Vulpes vulpes;
  • management;
  • Britain

Abstract

Fox culling practices in three contrasting rural regions (1280–2320 km2) of Britain were investigated by questionnaire surveys of landowners and tenant farmers. Between 50 and 52% of all farmers identified in each region contributed to the survey (total number of replies = 1123). Fox culling was widespread in all regions, with 70–95% of farmers involved either directly or indirectly as hosts. Motivation for culling foxes and the methods employed reflected regional variation in agricultural and game-shooting interests. Social factors associated with fox-hunting for sport also played an important role in one region. The contribution to the total fox cull made by communally organized groups operating over large tracts of farmland, and the efforts of individual farmers at a local scale, also varied regionally. The numbers of foxes culled were close to published estimates of annual productivity in British fox populations. Deliberate culling was therefore likely to be the chief cause of fox mortality in these regions. The marked differences in culling practices between these regions provide a strong case that the impact of culling on fox population dynamics must be assessed for regions of this size, as well as at a more local scale. Studies at a national scale (e.g. the whole of Britain) are probably of little biological or sociological significance. The success of different interest groups in achieving their aims, and the consequences of any change in culling practices must also be considered at a similar geographical scale.