I WAS disturbed to read the article in last week's Gazette concerning the problems that Mrs Soul is having with foxes neighbouring her home in Stifford Clays.

I have been observing foxes for a good many years now and what she describes is in no way typical behaviour. They are normally timid of both dogs and people.

Attacks on domestic cats and dogs are extremely rare. Indeed I own a cat smaller than Mrs Soul's dog and though I was obviously protective of her initially she often sits and watches foxes from close range and has never come to the slightest harm.

I think what may have happened is that prior to Mrs Soul's arrival the foxes had regarded her garden as a haven.

It may be the previous owner had been feeding them, which would account for their relative boldness and why they chose to have this spring's cubs nearby.

They will have interpreted the dog's inquisitiveness as a threat to the cubs, which possibly explains the attack described.

Numbers reach their peak in the late summer with the spring cubs reaching maturity. They can make an awful racket but rest assured they are sounds of contention within the group, of siblings competing without bloodshed over food or territory or possibly the parents driving youngsters away.

Numbers will decline as winter sets in as they head off to breed and establish their own territory.

It is very unlikely that a vixen will choose the same location next year as they will try to avoid proximity to a dog.

I hope that the article will not lead to people taking matters into their own hands as it could result in animals (possibly not just foxes) being injured or distressed and could well make the situation worse.

If they are further concerns wildlife and animal welfare groups will be able to advise on ways of deterring the foxes from areas they are not welcome.

I hope a solution can be found where people and foxes co-exist peacefully.

Remember it is only because of tolerance for wildlife by our ancestors that dogs ever became domesticated. The red fox has had to endure history of deprivation of habitat and food source as well as persecution. They are a part of our wildlife heritage and should be valued.

Name & address supplied.