April 14, 2010

County cricket

Fox out-foxed by Sussex authorities

Andrew Miller

Sussex County Cricket Club has come in for criticism from animal rights activists after a marksman was called in to shoot a fox that had been making a nuisance of itself at the county ground.

According to Dave Brooks, the county chief executive, the killing of the fox came as a last resort after months of “odd behaviour”, but the incident caused alarm among the residents of Eaton Road in Hove, with the police being called after three shots were fired shortly after midnight on Sunday morning.

Nigel Furness, 60, was at the nearby Sussex Cricketer pub when he heard the shots, and told The Argus: “I thought, ‘there’s something wrong here, what on earth is going on?’ It’s a big open space so it can be quite creepy at night. Then about five minutes later a police car came up. I asked the officers what was going on and they said there’s nothing to worry about, the cricket club is just shooting foxes and it is all legitimate.

“But there really is no need to shoot foxes. They are completely harmless and destroy a great many pests like slugs and snails and we are absolutely appalled. It is also extremely alarming that we were never told what was going on.”

Green Party animal rights spokesman Sue Baumgardt said: “To have people going in with rifles is appalling. At this time of year vixens are nursing cubs underground. A spokesman for the RSPCA said that killing wild pests should always be a last resort.”

A memorial service is planned for Thursday afternoon. Send flowers and gifts c/o Sussex County Cricket Club, Hove. Rumours that the fox was exterminated on the orders of the club's new sponsor, Old Speckled Hen, have been strongly denied.

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Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazine

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