Deep in the night, a conversation about the bad press that foxes tend to get about what is claimed to be their habit of killing for the hell of it – think corpse-strewn hen houses across the land, bereft small-holders, curtailed egg supplies, and weeping infants. But what's the (dare I say) truth about this? We never get the fox's side of this particular story and have to rely on the "mainstream media" with all its prejudices. Is this fake news, perhaps? Are papers just publishing the sort of story that their readers want to hear, with the kind of editorial slant that appeals to revenue-generating prejudices? Heaven forfend!
Well, according to the University of Bristol's mammal group, it is fake news. When left alone in a hen house, the fox is simply taking the opportunity to lay in food for the future – rather like a trip to the supermarket. It's an evolved survival strategy, not wanton killing, which is something we're rather good at.
You will have worked out by now that I've been reading the Fox chapter of Charles Foster's Being a Beast. But I also recall a poster that was displayed in the History base room of Bath's PGCE course in the 1980s. It simply displayed the African proverb:
"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter."
... although I did not know its provenance at the time. It was reading China Achebe that revealed the source and the awkward fact that it is not really about lions and big game hunting at all.