“My neighbour lives away from the farm, so I usually check the sheep for him When I was there on Saturday, I caught the flash of an eye with my lamp and saw a fox carrying the dead lamb. I took careful aim and took the fox with a shot to the neck.

“…Some people think foxes aren’t doing any harm but this is proof

Tom Finn, from Clonroe Upper, [Co Wexford]

Fox Caught In The Act (The Dealer, Irish Farmer’s Journal)

Thanks Maura Fay

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159 thoughts on “Outfoxed

    1. obriendj

      Exactly, they are wild animals.

      also is it me or is it a bit early for Lambing season? it could be a young lamb from last year I suppose.

      1. SOMK

        98% of all vertibrate land mass are humans, or human food, the food we have, we’ve bred most of the instincts out of in order to make them more managable, in the process making them easy prey, I think we can afford the odd lamb, we’re as greedy as a virus, but viruses in not having brains can’t really be expected to know better.

        1. wexformdman

          How many lambs can we afford ?
          How do you make sure that the desired amount of lambs are killed by Fox and no more ?
          How singly spread that amount of lambs killed by foxes kit evenly among all sheep farmers ?

      2. obriendj

        Of course it is their livelihood and it is up to them to protect their food source

        If I have a piece of meat, drop it on the kitchen floor and the dog eats it, who is at fault? should I shoot the dog for eating my food?

          1. obriendj

            If the dog was eating it every day or jumping up on the table it would still be my fault.

            You would keep the dog out of the kitchen, away from your food. that is not easy for farmers but that is what they should do

            It wouldn’t be right to go out with my shot gun and shoot every dog I see. ( which I think what farmer Tom is implying )

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            Dogs what now?

            So farmers have to train foxes not to eat their lifestock? Or put up a sign asking them nicely? Or put a fence around each sheep?

      3. Bacchus

        You’ve just blown any credibility you might have had for the non- hunting gun lobby there Sparks. If he has a gun he must be defended eh?

        1. CliveJ

          Shoot the fecking dog, end of story. I just shot an Alsatian this week, it didn’t cost me a thought.

      1. sickofallthisbs

        A Broadsheet reader armed with insufficient facts and an overwhelming sense of superiority?

    2. Healy Rae's love child.

      Foxes eat lambs. Kill foxes and you have a rabbit overpopulation, which causes massive damage to fencing, pasturage, etc. Overall foxes are a benefit to the farmer.

    1. scottser

      if it were me, i’d have both the lamb and fox stuffed and set in a dramatic pose above my fireplace.

  1. Reegore

    Poor Tom doesn’t appear to see the irony of this rather dispassionate act.

    “…Some people think humans aren’t doing any harm but this is proof”

  2. Drogg

    Em is it just me or does anyone else think its weird that the fox killed a lamb that small in the middle of winter? Lambing season is spring and last years lambs should be a lot bigger then a fox at this stage.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Climate has been all over the place this year.
      Like, its been a fairly warm winter in the whole.

      I know little of this, but could some sheep be lambing early? Do they do that?

      1. Don Pidgeoni

        Only if they did sex earlier than normal. Some smaller farms also just put the ram out with the ewes all year so have lambs in every season

        1. Drogg

          Yeah but its not advisable to leave lambs that small outside during the colder weather which it would have been around the time of the shooting as they have been known to freeze to death as they are not mature enough to deal with it. It seems to me like a load of bollox, yes farmers have to protect their stock and yes foxes will take their share but this just looks like a set up, like it is going to be used to push for a cull or something, cause if you live or have ever lived in the country you will know that you always lose a percentage of your stock over the years.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Yet some farmers do leave them out because otherwise its feeding them cleaning them out etc. You aren’t going to do that with a small flock, its much more take your chance lamby, its not that cold and your mum will look after you (hopefully).

            Famers daughter, so yeah I know some things (oo-er)

          2. Bexbot

            +100 you’re far more likely to lose lambs to various parasites and other diseases they are highly prone to. Unless you are over run with foxes (which is unlikely given how spread out their territory tends to be), the justification for shooting them over predation is tenuous at best. I’d imagine this guy is someone who could justify poisoning the eagles and other birds introduced of late, for people who live off the land some farmers can be small minded and ignorant of the environment around them.

          3. Drogg

            Yeah but then as said below its more then likely it was already dead and the fox scavenged it. The whole thing just seems very suspect to me.

          4. Joe the Lion

            IMHO you’re absolutely right Drogg. It’s possible as Don says that the lambs are not kept in out of the cold as default but in fact unlikely in most cases making this an outlier event to begin with. Because in any event if a fox kills a lamb it is because the farmer generally failed to take appropriate assessment of the risk to his lamb of being killed by a fox and to plan accordingly. The tone of the whole thing is hysterical, stupid, sickening and repulsive – to summarise – stupid farmer failed to protect prime assets then whines about innocent animal punishing his apparent intelligence deficit. Fox 1 Farmer O.

          5. Drogg

            But Joe its not even the farmer its his Garda Reserve neighbour who is on the offence. Its Gun toting garda 1 Fox 0

          6. Drogg

            Grew up on a council estate, then mam married a culchie so spent years on a farm no i live in a south dub suburb so i don’t really know what i am. I kinda don’t fit in anywhere.

    2. Soundings

      I’m with you Drogg, it’s a staged scene alright, too composed, no blood and guts and the like. Fox was probably caught in a snare and carefully placed beside the recently defrosted lamb from last year.

      Isn’t there some legislation imminent that curtails the activities of the gun brigade?

      “Ah but Minister Fitzgerald, we need the auld guns, otherwise the foxes will run riot. Look!”

      1. fits

        Really? Come on

        Anyone who likes a bit of lamb around Easter can expect those lambs to be born about now.

        Also its not staged. I have seen my dogs return with rabbits and there wouldn’t necessarily be a lot of blood.

      2. hunt sab hunter

        Like the antis wouldnt be up to staging a snared hare at a coursing meet a few years ago and making great propaganda capital from it too.
        Nope we will still be shooting no matter what and thanking you gun banning mugs for your tax money that you will be paying us for compensation for confiscated firearms.20 grand cheque made to cash please inmy case thanks..

        1. Ciarán

          why would you be paid for having something illegal taken off of you…? and especially since you are not giving up the guns as you will be ‘shooting no matter what’?

          intelligence black hole

          1. Mark Dennehy

            Because there’s a legal difference between possession and ownership.

            If you own a shotgun whose magazine was crimped for three rounds and the new proposals went through and you were told that after it being legal for ninety years it was now illegal because the magazine was permanently altered after manufacture instead of having been manufactured to only hold three rounds, then you couldn’t have a licence for it and therefore couldn’t possess it. It’d have to go to a firearms dealer or the AGS for storage.

            You’d still own it though. And unless you want to give this government ideas, you’d best hope that they can’t just impound your property and then declare it not your property anymore without compensation.

            In the meantime, people will still carry on hunting and target shooting and so on because the proposed bans aren’t for every kind of firearm ever made.

            And ignoring all this in the background, happily smuggling in submachine guns, light machine guns, actual assault rifles (as opposed to what the press calls assault rifles) and handguns, are the drug dealers, who couldn’t give a tuppenny fart for the firearms act because their daily activities are already so illegal as to mean life in prison anyway, so who cares about an extra five to seven years?

            But we’ll keep writing laws and hoping that the criminals will obey them, while at the same time cutting Garda funding and freezing Garda recruitment and closing Garda stations, because Reasons.


  3. Jess

    Some other headlines could include

    ‘Wild animal gets something to eat shocker!’

    I mean if the farmer was only going to kill the lamb for food anyway

  4. Joe

    Tom Finn, if the fox had come into the house and took a baby then I’d have no problem with ya shooting it. It would be doing an act that wouldn’t be natural for the animal, but taking a single lamb is natural for it to do so it can feed and survive.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Its a big play for a fox.
      Usually they go smaller than lambs.

      I feel like he is being punished for having ambition.

  5. Don Pidgeoni

    People do understand. They just object to foxes being pulled apart by packs of rabid hounds.

    1. Cool_Hand_Lucan


      I certainly wouldn’t object to a farmer shooting a fox who was attacking his/her flock. A foxhunt is what most people find repugnant.

      1. fits

        I’ll tell you a story. I followed a hunt last week on foot. I watched the fox circle his tracks three times. The hounds were about fifteen minutes behind. He was just trotting around going about his business not a worry in the world. The huntsman eventually called the hounds away as they were too confused. Anyone who has concerns about cruelty should go an follow a hunt for themselves. It is vastly different to how people picture it.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Oh haha what great larks!

          I’ve seen a fox torn to pieces by a pack of dogs. That is not something I would want anything or one to go through because you know, Im not a complete monster

      1. Jess

        Absolutely, nothing better than see the little guys scamper across the road when I’m out walking the dog. I just cant imagine where they go at night or how they get enough to eat. Though I do know a few people who leave food out for them

        1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

          I’ve seen a few very mangy looking fellers in Ballsbridge. I think they must live in Herbert Park. One of em looks like his tail hair has mostly fallen out.

          1. Jess

            It can happen but mange isn’t caused by malnutrition but rather by a mite, rescued a few dogs that have had it, nasty little feckers they are.

          2. scottser

            make your way out to the goat grill, goatstown with a torch. there’s a field at the back of the carpark. shine the torch into the field and enjoy the sight of 50-60 pairs of green eyes twinkling back at you..

          3. Drogg

            I live not far from there scottser and have them running through my front and back garden every night. Its great pest control.

        2. Don Pidgeoni

          One year Springwatch had a family Scottish foxes who lived in the garden of a student house (so no gardening or bothering done) and they lived off the rubbish in the bin outside a chippy. Smart little mama they had those cubs!

      2. Rompsky

        We had one come up to my front door in Rathfarnham. Himself and the cat got into a staring match through the porch window. Wouldnt budge even with noise or trying to get rid of him. Walked around the house for about 10 mins then headed off

    1. medieval knievel

      yep, natural mortality for lambs seems to hover around 10% and predation by foxes at around 1% – so it may very well be the case that the lamb was already dead.

      1. Nigel

        Yyyyyyeah, maybe, but even so, you don’t want foxes scavenging around your sheep looking for dead lambs, because they’re sure to chance a few live ones while they’re at it.

        1. deliverancecountry

          Aye, probably an already dead lamb.
          Our neighbour has foxes on his farm, I’ve seen them out with their cubs among the lambs.

  6. Diddley Aye

    Foxes killing sheep is natural.
    Farmers killing foxes who kill sheep is equally natural.
    Thats about it really.

      1. Diddley Aye

        If you accept the act itself was justified then it doesnt matter who pulls the trigger. If its a friendly arrangement between neighbours then that can only be a good thing.

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Normally for managing wildlife on your farm. Deer can spread disease etc and generally be a nuisance re fencing/food for animals. I have nothing against ducks.

          2. Don Pidgeoni

            Dead duck is not even nice. Not even with all your la-de-da sauces.

            Live ducks on the other hand are hilarious

      2. Stewart Curry

        It’s called lamping. You use a big lamp to find them and stun them (you see the shine in their eyes, and they stand still because they think they’re having their photo taken) then you shoot them BLAM.

  7. Gabby

    Having grown up in a rural area I have no problem with fox hunting. Yes foxes are carnivores, but they also kill for fun and kill more animals that they actually eat. I don’t like the chasing of foxes with a pack of dogs kind of hunting. Find ‘em and shoot ‘em with a bullet between the eyes.

    1. erm...

      foxes kill more than they eat, really? I very much doubt that.

      what irks me about this article is the trouble taken to arrange the photo, the effort to justify shooting the fox as if justification is required. No justification is needed if the fox is caught in the act. unless you take a certain element of pleasure or joy from it. for example, not sure it was necessary to mention that the fox was shot in the neck, unless you’re appealing to the gun crazies to clap you on the back and compliment your aim.

      1. Medium Sized C


        Bollox international anti-predator argument.
        Foxes eat what they kill, they bury and return to what they can’t eat.

        1. fits

          lol! you have obviously never been anywhere near a foxes handywork. They regularly wipe out a full coop of chickens. The red mist descends…

      2. Don Pidgeoni

        Foxes will sometimes go in and kill everything if they get the chance and other times take animals one by one. You may not like it but it is true

        1. Drogg

          Its a frenzy they get into to kill it takes them over for a few min and turns them into a killing machine and they literally kill everything around them but this is far more common when they are attacking fowl as a lamb is a large target for a fox in the first place.

        2. Zarathustra

          True, Don, I’m from a farming family and most farmers wouldn’t begrudge a fox the odd lamb, however, it’s the damage caused by foxes/dogs to a flock of sheep which is the real problem; pregnant ewes can have a heart attack, miscarry, or both, when subjected to prolonged, or frequent attacks. A farmer can end up losing many ewes and lambs after such attacks, also, crows can do a fair bit of damage to a new lamb if it’s weak and left unattended.

          1. fits

            Id begrudge the fox the odd lamb! no way I’d be happy with that going on. Is the lamb somehow less worthy?

          2. Zarathustra

            fits, it has nothing to do with being more or less worthy; I was simply implying that nature will take its course, and it is inevitable that farmers will lose lambs to hungry foxes who have to feed their young – most farmers accept this as a part of nature, and that’s what I meant when I said they wouldn’t ‘begrudge’ a fox the odd lamb.

      1. Jess

        Im fairly sure Humans are pretty good at killing more than they eat. Case in point.

        Time to dust off the ‘ol genocide cap

  8. Mort

    Foxes don’t eat every sheep or lamb they kill. They will often kill a lamb and if they’re disturbed or get spooked they will will leg it. They don’t come back for it, they just kill another lamb. I was out on friends farm in Wicklow last year and there was lamb carcasses all over the place and they 99% of them were fox kills.

    Of course, I like Foxes, they’re beautiful animals but city slickers have no idea of the fox population in rural Ireland, they are a menace and need to be culled. The more humanely the better.

    1. Mister Mister

      I call bullshit. I’m regularly in the Wicklow Hills across all terrains and have never come across such massacres.

    2. wexformdman

      There may be more foxes in urban areas drogg, but the reason founder so many if them is they are used to human presence andfoxes have more places to hide in the country which makes them less obvious.

  9. Medium Sized C

    I’d rather see a fox targeted like this.
    Like there is the whole thing where a fox that is taking lambs is likely to try again.

    That said, as discussed above we and Tom, don’t actually know the fox killed the lamb.
    That lamb looks, as I said, like a big kill for the fox. Lot of effort. But worth it as scavenge.

    What is true is to say the broader motivation for this is utterly stupid.
    One dead fox with a dead lamb in its mouth is not proof of anything.
    It is not illustrative of the risk of foxes to livestock and does not justify anything.

  10. pissedasanewt

    Whats the solution.. just kill all the foxes? and badgers to as they spread TB and what of the birds of prey they might go after small lambs.. kill them to, probably with poison. Then you’ve rabbits running around with no predators and they eat the grass that the farm animals graze on. So the farmer has to spend more to buy in feed because the rabbits have grazed away the young grass, so best to poison them.

  11. Diddley Aye

    Seeing as this is Broadsheet ‘n all with its love of cats, have urbanites ever considered where urban foxes get their meals. I live in a part of the city with a large semi-wild cat population and I regularly hear fights between foxes and cats at night. The worst and noisiest of these fights come in the weeks after the heavily pregnant female cats disappear to have their kittens.

  12. 15 cents

    farmers are awful yolks who place no value on life. theyll shoot ur dog if its on their land. mate of mines dog ran off when my mate was 9, farmer called up his dad to say he found his dog and would bring him back. he arrived up in the jeep and pulled the dead dog out of the back and threw it on the ground in front of my mate and told them that is what will happen to any dogs runnin thru his fields. they do stuff like that all the time. theyre the worst.

    1. Duh

      Yeah If a farmer see’s a lovely field with a family having a picnic, and there’s a nice pond in it, they fill in the pond with concrete, plough the family into the field, blow up the tree, and use the leaves to make a dress for their wife who’s also their brother.

  13. Sheila

    Like Fluffy says, who’s to say the lamb was not already dead. My Dad throws any still born lambs to the foxes whenever he finds any (and there will be).

    Re early lambing season, how else would you get your Easter leg of lamb roast? Ewes are brought into season early using hormones etc. If lambing season was left to its normal timeline, then there would probably be less predation by foxes as it’s later on in the year. Maybe :)

  14. Anomanomanom

    Have not read all posts so excuse me if someone has made the point. By using the logic the fox killed a lamb, which is my lively hood,so I shot it. Would it be acceptable for shopper owners shooting anyone who shop lifts?

      1. Anomanomanom

        Of course not. But the logic of “it’s my lively hood” than can be used for anything

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      I shop for lifts regularly. Sometimes I’ll try shop a lift I found in the bins. But its not a crime, so why shoot me?!

  15. Niallo

    The lamb became depressed by the miserably short daylight hours and ended it all by jumping into a fox, alternately, the fox, for much the same reason, decided to inhale a sheep.
    Scotch anyone ?

  16. Paolo

    Apart from being an obvious fake, the message is really horrible. Kill all wildlife for greedy greedy profit. If you want to farm then invest the money in ways to keep foxes away from wildlife. If you are unwilling to do that then you accept the risk. If I saw someone shooting foxes, it would be the last thing they ever did.

  17. wexformdman

    Think about this a bit. There’s say 50 sheep in the field, and a few lambs. One lamb dies or is killed by the Fox, and the Fox is shot.

    The odd thing about the people on this thread giving out about the death of the Fox, is that there was no mention of the fact that there were 50 sheep in the field being bred for slaughter.

    Why is it that people are upset about the Fox, but not one mention of the pending death of fifty sheep in the field ?

    Is it perhaps because they like the taste of lamb that mankes them say nothing about these creatures ?

    It shows the shallowness and hypocrisy of those posters.

    Ps I love lamb, tastiest meat ever!

  18. Rossm

    Foxes need controlled, they are classed as a pest species same as rabbits & rats, a farmer/gamekeeper or whom ever he employs to do so is entitled to protect his livelihood where is it be shooting, snaring or terrier work within the law. Some of the comments on this are quite farcical tbh, if foxes just took one or scavenged or ate rabbits then everything would be fine but fact of the matter they don’t, they will return to a reliable food source as long as it’s available (hence townies feeding them every night) and controlling them is a necessary process if livelihoods are to be protected. I’m sure everyone would just accept loosing X amount of money per annum out of there income and not have anything to say about it OR sit back and just accept it. I’m sure they would rather donate 3 quid a month and receive a free fluffy fox and a love letter too if there was a choice.

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