The fox population in Cyprus is increasing this year with its presence being felt both in the countryside and in the city centers. Senior Officer of the Game and Fauna Service, Nikos Kasinis, told K that the increase in the number of foxes is not a cause for concern, only the presence of the animal in areas of high ecological importance, which is monitored through the various programmes of the service and the cameras installed in NATURA areas.
He further clarified that the exact number of foxes in Cyprus remains unknown as many of them take refuge in the buffer zone. At the same time, he assured that the presence of foxes in cities does not pose any danger and advised people not to be afraid of them. It is worth noting that the species of fox present in Cyprus is vulpes vulpes.
What drives them to the cities
The presence of foxes in cities is a normal development, as Mr. Kasinis described it, and is observed in several European cities. It is a voracious and versatile species, meaning it feeds on a wide variety of food - from fruit, rubbish, rodents, game, birds, and livestock - finds cover in areas where there are lots of trees and uses abandoned houses and drainage systems as nests. "There are many ways this species can adapt and live close to humans," he said.
On the case of the Strovolos linear park, where there is an increase in the number of foxes, Mr. Kasinis explained that in this particular place citizens feed too many cats and this habit attracts foxes, which feed on both the cats' food and the cats themselves. There is, in fact, a lot of vegetation and cover in the area, which favors the movement of the fox at night.
The concern and mass poisonings
What concerns the competent authorities is the increase in the fox population in areas of high ecological interest. "In some areas, such as salt marshes and wetlands, they can cause damage to important aquatic birds that are protected and to species that are designated as being of Community interest and important at European level," said Mr. Kasinis.
It is noted that the agency runs a programme dealing with the protection and management of NATURA sites, under which it monitors areas of high ecological importance and species likely to adversely affect them, including the fox.
Another issue arising from the local increase in the fox population is mass poisonings, especially near livestock areas. He noted that the main reason for the decline in vulture numbers in Cyprus is the use of poisoned baits for fox and stray dogs.
"As a result of this criminal and illegal activity, the vulture in Cyprus is on the verge of extinction. If we did not have the European programmes to strengthen their population, we would have only 5-6 vultures in the skies of Cyprus," concluded Mr. Kasinis.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]