April 17, 2009

Man trains foxes to beg for food

A British man said he has trained generations of fox cubs to stand on their hind legs and beg for food.

Richard Lavelle, 80, said his neighbors are happy that he feeds the foxes in his Derby, England, garden because it prevents the animals from digging on the surrounding properties, The Times of London reported Friday.

Lavelle said his fox-training began about five years ago.

A mother fox had some cubs on some allotments at the bottom of my neighbor's garden, so I started to offer them food, he said. When the mother died, the cubs kept coming, and now I am seeing the second generation.

Wildlife protection experts offered varying opinions on Lavelle's activities.

The foxes are getting regular food and it seems to be stopping them destroying the local environment, said Nick Brown, of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

However, an official with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals questioned whether Lavelle might be causing long-term harm to the animals.

They could easily become dependent on you, then what happens when you move away? the official said.