September 22, 2008

"Rare black fox spotted in Britain"

As they explain a bit later in the article, this is a melanistic phase. I wonder if they are as rare as the conservation officer suggests.

Kevin Hehir, 48, was astonished when he spotted the fox while out walking.

The black fox is so rare that wildlife experts believe there are only a handful of the breed left in the country.

In medieval times, the black fox was considered a bad omen by superstitious villagers.

David Dunlop, Lancashire Wildlife Trust conservation officer, said: "Only one black fox has been seen and, as far as I know, it's the only one to be seen in this country before," he said "In North America, I think it's about one in five red foxes are black but that's because they were introduced from Europe."

They exist in much greater numbers in America there because they were not hunted as widely, whereas in Britain their pelts were highly prized in the fur trade and making the genetic strain became much scarcer.
[Here's the link. Hat tip to California's own black fox, Kitsune Noir.]


PBurns said...

OK, I guess I know a bit about fox.

Melanistic fox are not common anywhere, but they are not as rare as hen's teeth either; they are a simple sport that crops up one in every thousand or so. Since there are about 300,000 fox in the UK at any given time (a few more in the Spring, a few less in the dead of winter), that would mean there are always a few hundred black fox running around the UK. The hunts nail a few every year.

As for the nonsense that about one out of every five fox in the US is black (and because they are an import from a country that suposedly does not have any black foxes?!) that is pure nonsense. Black fox are uncommon here too, but they exist. We have a lot of cross foxes (red fox with dark patches on the top), but they are equally common in the UK I think.

Another small point: The fellow from the Lancashire Wildlife Trust is obviously a fool -- you do not hunt fox by coat color! This is not "pick fruit from a bin." The trap does not care about the color, and neither does the dog, the gun, or the poison or snare. If this fellow knew feather from a fin he would know that.



Anonymous said...

The black fox is a color variation of the red fox. They are gorgeous!