A pest control expert who hides out in client’s bedrooms before shooting the animals claims to be Britain’s first urban fox hunter.
Tom Keightley, 56, camps in clients’ upstairs bedrooms where he waits for the nocturnal creatures to come out before shooting them with a .22 air rifle.
Fully-licenced Mr Keightley from Croydon charges up to £350 to kill a family of foxes and says he can exterminate between six and eight a night.
The man says he has been receiving calls to his UK Urban Foxes firm from hundreds of concerned residents about the pest problem.
He said: ‘The vixen tends to stay underground and the male comes up and does his work at night mainly so that’s when I do most of my work.
‘I tend to shoot them because it’s quicker and kinder. Some people trap them first and then shoot them but they might be in the trap for hours, which isn’t very humane.
‘Most of the time I shoot from one of the bedroom windows and they don’t know I’m coming.
He said: ‘It is legal. Foxes don’t have the same protection as, say, a badger. I always let the police know when I’m going to shoot a fox. I have a firearms certificate as well.
‘This has nothing whatsoever to do with fox hunting.
‘They’re urban foxes so it’s completely different. You’re not going to get a bunch of hounds running through a London suburb.’
Mr Keightley is contracted to DEFRA to respond during animal disease outbreak dealing with infected livestock in the field.
He is also on the police call out system to humanely deal with deer or other animals injured in road traffic collisions.
He has been trained by the humane slaughter association (HSA) The British Deer Society.
The grandfather added: ‘I quite like foxes really. In the countryside they don’t do much harm. But they are not welcome in cities.
‘Animal rights campaigners say that 50 per cent of young foxes are killed on the roads, and that is enough of a cull, but I think that’s ridiculous.
‘It’s crazy to rely on motorists to control any animal population – the damage to cars and potential loss of life is too great.
‘And more often than not the foxes suffer, because they’re not killed straight away. I cleanly kill the foxes, as painlessly as possible.’
‘I haven’t got a problem with foxes, I quite admire them really. If they were in danger of becoming extinct I wouldn’t kill them.
‘I wouldn’t like to be the one to kill the last remaining fox, put it that way.’
A spokeswoman from The RSPCA said today: ‘The RSPCA will always urge non-lethal methods of deterrent where possible as shooting foxes will simply encourage other foxes to move in from other areas and take their place
‘The most sustainable and long-term solution to discourage foxes from an area is to remove or prevent access to the things that are attracting them to the area, such as food and shelter.’
‘There are restrictions on some of the methods that might be used to kill them but otherwise foxes do not have specific legal protection.
‘Providing that the person has the appropriate firearms certification for the weapon used, is on land that they either own or have permission to be on and is not shooting so as to pose a safety hazard then there is no offence committed.’