Somerset

City foxes blamed for attacking lambs on moors

Lambs at Alan Collins's farm
Image caption A week into lambing season, Mr Collins began to lose lambs

Urban foxes are being blamed for a string of attacks on newborn lambs in the middle of Exmoor.

Farmer Alan Collins, who has lost 33 lambs in a week, believes the foxes are being dumped on the moors by animal welfare groups.

He says those observed were not scared of lights or vehicles. Eight were shot in one field in one night.

The RSPCA said it did not put foxes on the moors and said there was no evidence of others doing it.

'Unbelievable'

Mr Collins, who farms in Withypool, Somerset, has worked on Exmoor since the 1970s and said the attacks were the worst he had seen.

He began to lose lambs a week into lambing season. A friend went out at night to shoot the foxes and spotted eight in one field.

"It was unbelievable," Mr Collins said.

Image caption Mr Collins said the scale of attacks was the worst he had seen

He said foxes normally kept away from lights but these foxes "weren't worried about the vehicle or anything in the field - it didn't bother them at all."

He usually expected to lose two or three lambs a week, not 33.

An RSPCA spokesman said: "We don't collect foxes from urban areas and deposit them in the countryside.

"If we take in an injured fox and release it after a period of recuperation, we always release it as near to where it was found as possible."

In 2011, the then Agriculture Minister Jim Paice told MPs there was "a lot of anecdotal evidence that people do trap urban foxes and release them in the countryside".

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