Foxes come to the rescue in feral cat war

FIVE years ago, politicians were complaining that feral cats had taken over the centre of Kilkenny city.

FIVE years ago, politicians were complaining that feral cats had taken over the centre of Kilkenny city.

The cats were everywhere, making a complete nuisance of themselves and a potential danger to public heath because of the bugs they were carrying.

The councillors need not have worried, because creatures even craftier than themselves stepped in to solve the problem.

Nature has its own way of dealing with over-population of a particular species. There has been a marked increase in the number of foxes around the country and Kilkenny in recent times. This has led directly to a sharp fall in the number of feral cats which once threatened to over-run some estates in the city.

The foxes, as ever, have adapted to an urban lifestyle. The most cunning of hunters, they isolate kittens and sick feral cats and after killing them, eat them.

And before you shed a tear for the felines, the foxes have taken over their pursuit of rodents.

So for the next few months get used to banshee-like howling at night as the fox mating season gets into full swing.

Wildlife enthusiasts have asked us not to pinpoint where the foxes are located around the city. They fear that hunters will try and kill them.

Anyone with a chicken coop will tell you they fear a nocturnal visit from a fox. The foxes are also particularly found of fowl, duck in particular.

They had been killing large numbers of them in the Castle Park and so the Office of Public Works (OPW) in conjunction with Birdwatch Ireland came up with a solution.

A duck villa was constructed and now floats on the pond and ducks can nest there safe from the foxes. The foxes feed mainly at night and many householders in the Bennettsbridge area of the city have seen them in their backyards and around the Granges Road, coming in from the Loughmacask area.

A talk on the barn owl (a bird of prey) will be given by Raptor Conservation Officer with Birdwatch Ireland, John Lusby, on February 2 in Hotel Kilkenny at 8pm.