It really is a dilemma. Foxes cover a huge area and they jump fences so easily, there is no keeping them out. This fox does the rounds of the area every night and probably covers numerous gardens. I have wondered about feeding it, so that it’s not as hungry, but then that just makes for a very healthy fox that is likely to have a healthy litter of cubs that it will also bring to be fed! If I feed it, it will definitely come every night; but if I don’t it’s likely to sniff around anyway. Last summer there were four foxes – two parents and two cubs. At least now there only seems to be one on its own… for now. It also comes back to the garden three or four times in one evening. The garden has lots of entry and exit points for hedgehogs, so it doesn’t know their route, but it probably knows they’ll visit one of the feeding stations. On the camera when it pounced, it appeared from nowhere – it hadn’t triggered the motion-sensitive camera beforehand, so I can only presume it was waiting in the bushes.
It is true that over-wintered hogs can become less frightened of predators. I handle my foster hogs as little as possible for that reason. The females I released may have come to a sticky end sooner for that reason, but the one the fox caught the other day was a male, and therefore a wild one. The three hogs I have in the outside enclosure (two inherited from another carer) I dare not release, because they have become too used to humans. One was rescued as a baby so has never lived in the wild, and one has had problem after problem so has become used to being treated and handled, and the third is completely bonkers, and when I first put them outside he came right out in daylight, came up to me and pulled at my trousers like a little dog! I have hilarious video footage of it, if only I could post it, but that is obviously far from normal behaviour! They seem perfectly happy with each other and their space (unlike some of the wilder previous occupants who tried to dig out and escape the whole time). If it weren’t for the fox, I’d risk them having a taste of freedom, but not now.
I guess I’ll have to leave it to nature and survival of the fittest and hope that enough hogs evade the fox to keep the population going.