I love foxes; I always have. I think is especially because I grew up in inner city Leeds and, alongside the magpies, starlings and sparrows, they were often the only ‘natural’ thing I came into contact with as a kid. Inner city kids tend to have a distrust of anything to do with nature, but I was interested in animals and flowers at an early-ish age, even if I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. I just knew I liked foxes. Even now I wear a silver fox pendant everyday. I’m disappointed by the fact that, even though I live (literally) on the edge of the woods, I’ve only ever seen one mangy fox in our garden in the three years we’ve been here.
Of course I was drawn to this book- not only was it on a topic dear to me, but LOOK AT IT. Isn’t it beautiful? I’d love a print of this fox on my wall.
The book is an exploration of foxes in British life- how historically they’ve been viewed by us, right through to their redemption via Fantastic Mr Fox and Springwatch and then through vilification by tabloids (‘Foxes bit my baby!’) and the pro-hunting lobby. As a result, Jones speaks to a variety of people from all sides of the debate; Chris Packham is entertaining.
I was fascinated by the way Jones was treated by the different factions- welcomed by hunt saboteurs, shunned by the hunters (despite being from a family with hunting connections) and accompanying a city pest controller. She manages to present all of these differing views in a fair, balanced way- although I came away depressed that what with politics as they are, we’re probably very likely to see a re-introduction to legal hunts; I’m pretty sure there are illegal hunts and, even though in this book there are stats that show that evidence that hunts help farmers is somewhat sketchy. I was also interested in the idea that if we were to eradicate foxes, we’d have a bigger problem with rats and mice, so it’s kind of swings and roundabouts.
The overriding message, though, is one of fascination and-maybe- even love. Yes, they’re a pain sometimes, but foxes are remarkable animals; Britain’s last large predator and one of its most adaptable native species, it seems like the fox is here for the time being at least.