These images form part of an upsetting story of a young vixen (affectionately called Eva). They highlight the risks to foxes and other wild animals when co-existing alongside humans in the urban environment.

I first came across Eva when I noticed a nursing vixen close to my home. I was very fortunate to witness her and three of her siblings grow from cute little cubs to fully grown adult foxes. Initially, I spent most of my time photographing her much bolder brother and sister, while she was much more reserved. I did however manage to capture a handful of her when she was around 4 months old. Below is one of those images, where she was enjoying life as heathy young vixen.

When she was about nine months old I became aware that she had sustained some terrible injuries. Sadly she had been tangled in some thick plastic barrier netting, commonly used as temporary fencing in locations such as building sites and roadworks here in the U.K.

She bravely managed to fight free, but the remains of the plastic were still firmly attached to her body. The sharp edges of the plastic created awful open wounds, which were clearly visible. After the initial ordeal (from which she must have fought for her life to free herself, and managed to snap it off) the remains had been looped around her neck and legs cutting deep into her skin.

Myself and a dedicated team attempted to catch her. Eva was so cautious (perhaps due to her earlier traumatic experience of being trapped in the plastic) that she refused to ever enter the rescue traps and some creative alternative methods had to be devised.

If you’re thinking of photographing foxes at night using flashes, please be considerate to their well-being and others who live in the area. Always keep the power setting low and number of flashes to a minimum.

After 5 long months she was eventually rescued, immediately operated on to remove the plastic and then received a month of rest and rehabilitation at Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

The process of catching and rehabilitating her meant that when she was released back into her territory she had become more habituated towards humans. As she settled back in to normal life she became a local furry celebrity with many admirers.

She also clearly had a special relationship with her brother. He was happy to see her return to their territory. They became joined at the hip, often seen grooming and playing together. Witnessing this made all the effort of catching her so worth while and I know all involved would do it all again in a heartbeat.

It was devastating to receive the news one day that her life had been cut short due to another negative interaction with the human world. Just 6 months after being released she was found dead, having been hit by a car.

This was obviously devastating news to everyone who had got to know and love her. We were all really hoping that she would go on to live a full rich life and raise a litter of cubs. Unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be. Rest in peace little Eva.

I hope that her story and my images can raise awareness of the risk that we pose to wildlife living in our cities. I believe that often it only takes a few small changes to reduce the danger, such as being mindful about the items we discard, the speed we drive our vehicles and considering whether plastic fencing like this is essential. 

If it is deemed necessary then fencing and barriers should be lifted a small distance from the ground. This will allow wildlife to freely travel in and out while still achieving the barrier effect to keep humans out.

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