Illustration © nic-nic 2017
Fox death, December 2021
Please consider our plots as shared with animals and avoiding the use and storage of poisons
Foxes are a familiar site on Warritston Allotments. Very sadly, one died this month after suffering terribly.
Two plot holders found the fox they knew as Rusty in the woodland after hearing animal screams. She was clearly in much pain—the SSPCA were phoned. Suffering seizures, tremors and rapid breathing, she died just before the SSPCA arrived. The officer was very kind, examined Rusty and found no injuries. Poisoning, most likely from slug pellets, was offered as the most possible diagnosis.
Rusty was buried in the woodland by the plot holders who found her. The experience and sense of helplessness was extremely distressing.
Slug pellets contain Metaldehyde which is toxic to dogs and cats, foxes and other wild animals such as hedgehogs. Pellets can include molasses to attract slugs and snails, but the sweet smell is irresistible to dogs and foxes. Manufacture of this type of slug pellet is no longer legal, but its sale is permitted until end March 2022. Pellets can therefore still be bought and some plot holders may still be using it.
If you do have these toxic pellets in your shed or on your plot we urge you to immediately remove and dispose of them safely.
Less harmful pellets contain ferric/iron phosphate, but these can also have a bad effect on animals, not death but unpleasant discomfort. Please use other methods of keeping slugs at bay—garlic spray, egg shells, coffee grounds, copper rings, killing underfoot etc. Our slug page will help.
Best of all do nothing. Let the slugs live. Some years they will eat all your lettuces and leave your potatoes. Other years they won't touch the former and go for the latter. Use rotation, mulch your beds with plenty of organic manure and keep your plot tidy (ie no piles of bricks lying around untouched for years) and slugs will be kept at bay, or at least in lesser numbers. Remember slugs have predators other than human ones—birds, even foxes—who will help you dispose of them.
Rusty might also have killed by rat poison. Putting any poison in the environment creates danger for people, pets and wild animals. Please consider our environment and wildlife. Contact Ian.Woolard@edinburgh.gov.uk at the council if you're concerned about rats—he is more than happy to help plot holders control them safely.