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.[Here's the link. Hat tip to California's own black fox, Kitsune Noir.]
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.