The Archdiocese of Southwark is reassuring the public that no foxes are being harmed amid plans to deter them from the grounds of a Catholic primary school.
The reassurance comes after members of the public raised concerns over the wellbeing of a family of foxes that have expanded their territory into the grounds of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary School in Bexley, Sidcup.
It is believed the foxes began spending time on the school site while it was shut amid the Covid-19 lockdown and now, as the school prepares to reopen next month, it must ensure that the site is safe for pupils and staff to return, which means it must deter the foxes from the school grounds.
As part of this plan, the school has contacted the charity Fox Project and are working with their partner organisation Fox-A-Gon.
This has led to various members of the public claiming that fox traps have been laid at the school, with the intention of catching and shooting them. There has also been a petition page set up in order to stop this from occurring.
However, both the school and the Archdiocese of Southwark have denied these claims, insisting that the welfare of the foxes is a top priority and that they will not be harmed in any way.
In a statement posted on the school’s website, Mrs Edwards, head teacher, said: “We are aware of recent concerns raised on social media. We appreciate residents and parents’ concerns and continue to focus on maintaining the safety of the school site.
“The school are following guidelines to ensure that it is ready for opening safely to all children in September. Guidelines recommend that the school is well ventilated and that windows and external doors are kept open. This safety measure has been put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“In order for the school to open safely in September we have contacted the charity Fox Project and are working with their partner organisation Fox-A-Gon,” Mrs Edwards continued. “This is a humane deterrence service that draws on knowledge of the species and its behaviour by using non-harmful methods.
“We have agreed a plan to minimise fox intrusion on the site and to deter them from the school grounds without causing any harm to the foxes.
“We look forward to welcoming the children back to a healthy and safe school environment, for a new start in September.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Southwark told The Catholic Universe that the school is looking to prioritise the safety of both pupils and the family of foxes.
In a phone call with The Catholic Universe, the spokesperson said that Fox-A-Gon is described on its website as ‘a nationwide, humane deterrence service for individuals, companies and organisations who are being troubled by foxes but wish to resolve the problem without harming the culprits’.
She explained that the plan is to deter the foxes from the school grounds and if that can’t be done, the foxes may need to be captured in a safe and humane way and then taken to a sanctuary and released somewhere where they will be free, safe and happy.
“I believe strongly in the integrity of creation and feel that the school should be proud of how well they have handled this matter,” the spokesperson said. “I’m keen to reassure the public on behalf of both the school and the diocese, and to take the distress out of the whole situation for everyone by setting the facts straight.”
They added that some members of the public had left nasty messages and damaged school property in relation to the issue.
Fox-A-Gon told The Catholic Universe that no traps have been set at the school.
“At this stage we can only say that we have been instructed by the school and that we are in the process of attending and completing an investigation and report,” a spokesperson said. “We do not discuss individual clients.”
Picture: A generic stock photo of urban foxes in a garden. (David Jones/PA).