A man who shoots foxes in the grounds of Sussex schools has said he does it to be “humane”.
Grandfather Tom Keightley, 56, told The Argus he has been hired to kill foxes by schools across East Sussex – as well as private residents across the county.
He said he kills six to eight foxes on each job on average, which costs clients a few hundred pounds.
The exterminator said killing the animals was essential to stop their proliferation and said the fox population in Brighton and Hove could increase five-fold as they enter the breeding season.
Mr Keightley, of High Hurstwood, near Uckfield, said foxes were a problem in many urban areas in Sussex and he was regularly called to kill the animals.
He refused to name the schools where he has been hired to eradicate problem foxes – for fear they would suffer public outcry – but said he |was regularly called to cull foxes at schools |when the animals were thought to be a threat to pupils.
He said: “I’m not saying we should kill all foxes, but reduce their numbers to manageable levels.
“If you have seen a number of foxes in your garden or they are causing a problem, then you might want to think about it.
“My methodology is to kill them with a single shot to the head, because I believe it is the most humane way to do it.
“Some people take them away and euthanize them, but my personal view is they will get more stressed. When I shoot them they have no idea what’s happening.”
When he embarks on a kill Mr Keightly lies in wait behind the curtains of upstairs windows armed with his silenced rifle, before delivering the deadly head shot.
He added: “It is absolutely a big problem in Brighton and across Sussex.
“If you see one fox that’s a nuisance, there are always a lot more. The seagulls are no deterrent.
“I’ve had to deal with a number of fox problems at schools in Sussex – usually because there are concerns they might attack pupils.
“Foxes are more likely to be a problem because they leave their excrement in gardens where children are playing.”
Mr Keightley is licensed by Sussex Police to use a firearm and said he always contacts the police to notify them before he goes on a job – in case concerned neighbours spot him.
A spokeswoman for East Sussex County Council said they did not know how many schools in the county had foxes exterminated as pest controllers are hired by individual schools from their own budgets.