Country diary 1946: don’t always blame the fox says flockmaster

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29 April 1946 Carrion crows often to blame for the killing of weaker lambs

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), vixen with two fox cubs coming out of the den. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), vixen with two fox cubs coming out of the den. Photograph: blickwinkel/AlamyRed fox (Vulpes vulpes), vixen with two fox cubs coming out of the den. Photograph: blickwinkel/Alamy

George MullerMon 26 Apr 2021 01.00 EDT

Cumberland
A vixen was seen at daybreak with a cub dangling from her jaws. She was crossing swiftly the strath at the head of the lake to a mountain coombe notorious for the number of deep bields in which foxes seek refuge in time of danger. The flockmaster explained that the vixen had been disturbed by a visitor’s terrier who had “marked” the earth in which she had laid down her cubs. “That would be the last of the litter,” he added. “She hadn’t much more than a mile and a half to go, and she’d probably spent the night in removing the litter.”

Country diary: this fox won't give up its prey without a fight

In our talk of the ways of foxes in spring this flockmaster ridiculed the idea that dog foxes play much part in the rearing of cubs. “They’ll perhaps bring their mates a bit of food for a day or two, but I’ll warrant that sort of attention doesn’t last long. Anyhow, by the time the cubs are stirring about on their legs inside their earth it’s the vixen that’s up and doing and kills our lambs. And I don’t put half as much blame on foxes, as on carrion crows. They’re the beggars that destroy our weakly lambs. We know because the carrion ‘fellers’ leave the lambs where they strike them. You cannot get over that evidence.”

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