ISSN 2330-717X

How Have Red Fox Populations Changed Over Time In Western Europe?

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Over several decades, Western Europe experienced an outbreak of rabies in forests that was eliminated through a program involving red fox vaccination campaigns. A study published in Mammal Review reveals that after the campaigns, red fox populations became larger than before, followed by an emergence of urban fox populations throughout Europe. Rabies vaccination was not the direct cause of this demographic explosion, however, as rabies-free areas also experienced it.

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The study also found that higher numbers of red foxes supported the outbreak of other diseases, though their impacts were limited. Around the 2000s, rural fox populations appeared to reach densities close to carrying capacity, and populations stabilized. Since then, however, Western European fox populations seem to be experiencing an overall decline.

“These data will help us to understand fox population trends at large spatial scales and over long time periods,” the authors wrote. “Understanding trends in the fox population is imperative for improving the future management of this species and for the conservation of its prey populations, particularly if the latter are sensitive to fox density.”

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