Science - June 29, 2006

Fox wreaks havoc among Droef chickens

There was Bruno the bear in Germany, and in Droevendaal there is Reintje. The fox has claimed innumerable victims since December in the many chicken and rabbit runs in the student complex Droevendaal. A number of the residents have had enough.

‘Peter heard the cock making funny noises and went to see what was the matter. There was a fox in the chicken run,’ tells Nienke Tolsma who lives at Droevendaal 45. It was four-thirty in the morning and the fox had already killed three of their chickens. Other housemates woke up and went outside as well. ‘There we were standing around the run. The fox was in a corner under the chicken coop and couldn’t get away. He tried to dig himself out under the chicken wire and even tried to jump over the fence, but failed. We had a discussion about whether we should kill him, but most thought that was a stupid idea. There’ll always be another fox.’

It’s not the first time that a fox has come snooping around Droevendaal to gorge himself on the tender chickens that provide eggs for many of the inhabitants of the barracks. But there have never been as many victims as this year. Maarten van der Duyn Schouten, Nienke’s housemate and member of the residents’ committee of Droevendaal: ‘It’s been going on since December. Altogether the fox has had at least fifty chickens and a number of rabbits. I think we’ve lost more than a third of our chickens. Droef is a lot quieter at the moment.’

Meanwhile feelings are starting to run high. Even among the Droevendaal residents, who are well known for being environmentally aware, there are increasing voices heard in favour of killing the fox. Maarten, who has lost three of his special white-faced black Spanish hens: ‘The week before we lost our chickens, they had already caught the fox red-handed at number 91. Someone stayed to keep an eye on the fox while the others went to look for sticks and things. But the fox managed to get away. I wasn’t at home when they caught him in our run. But they could have killed him as far as I’m concerned.’

So far the fox still has the upper hand. Just like in the stories. / JH

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