Meet the Sussex school fox exterminator

Tom Keightley. Picture by Sally Loram

Tom Keightley. Picture by Sally Loram

First published in News
Last updated
by , Chief reporter

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.

Comments (14)

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9:18am Wed 12 Feb 14

nosolution says...

9:16am and no animal rights extremists yelling blue murder and calling for the pest controllers head.They must still be in bed watching morning tv...
9:16am and no animal rights extremists yelling blue murder and calling for the pest controllers head.They must still be in bed watching morning tv... nosolution
  • Score: -11

9:47am Wed 12 Feb 14

The Prophet of Doom says...

He's been hired to kill private residents across the county?

Better that than killing animals.
He's been hired to kill private residents across the county? Better that than killing animals. The Prophet of Doom
  • Score: 10

10:14am Wed 12 Feb 14

Goldenwight says...

The Prophet of Doom wrote:
He's been hired to kill private residents across the county? Better that than killing animals.
Might lep with the housing crisis, too...
[quote][p][bold]The Prophet of Doom[/bold] wrote: He's been hired to kill private residents across the county? Better that than killing animals.[/p][/quote]Might lep with the housing crisis, too... Goldenwight
  • Score: 0

10:48am Wed 12 Feb 14

stir up says...

Good for him there are too many do gooders who think they are lovely and leave food out for them come on they are wild animals and kill chicken just for the fun of it and damage sheep. We should stop being controlled by the minorities who are against this and that and get the head lines. It seems anyone who moans about them is in the wrong and gets abused all over the place
Good for him there are too many do gooders who think they are lovely and leave food out for them come on they are wild animals and kill chicken just for the fun of it and damage sheep. We should stop being controlled by the minorities who are against this and that and get the head lines. It seems anyone who moans about them is in the wrong and gets abused all over the place stir up
  • Score: -21

10:50am Wed 12 Feb 14

cookie_brighton says...

He kills the foxes because.............
....They MAY attack the pupils.......where is the evidence that a fox HAS, in the past attacked a pupil, he should turn his killing to ....domestic dogs.....these ARE the REAL killers.
He kills the foxes because............. ....They MAY attack the pupils.......where is the evidence that a fox HAS, in the past attacked a pupil, he should turn his killing to ....domestic dogs.....these ARE the REAL killers. cookie_brighton
  • Score: 9

10:57am Wed 12 Feb 14

thevoiceoftruth says...

How ridiculous. I'm sure there were foxes living on the school grounds when I was a kid. Health and safety now decrees that foxes should be shot just because some idiot thinks they might attack children. With what evidence? Name the schools.
How ridiculous. I'm sure there were foxes living on the school grounds when I was a kid. Health and safety now decrees that foxes should be shot just because some idiot thinks they might attack children. With what evidence? Name the schools. thevoiceoftruth
  • Score: 20

11:15am Wed 12 Feb 14

winewomenandsong says...

I suggest he shoots foxes for his own ego and the money he earns from it. Sadist? And judging from what he says he knows absolutely nothing about the nature of foxes.
I suggest he shoots foxes for his own ego and the money he earns from it. Sadist? And judging from what he says he knows absolutely nothing about the nature of foxes. winewomenandsong
  • Score: 13

11:15am Wed 12 Feb 14

winewomenandsong says...

I suggest he shoots foxes for his own ego and the money he earns from it. Sadist? And judging from what he says he knows absolutely nothing about the nature of foxes.
I suggest he shoots foxes for his own ego and the money he earns from it. Sadist? And judging from what he says he knows absolutely nothing about the nature of foxes. winewomenandsong
  • Score: 1

12:15pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Crystal Ball says...

Sadistic little man. Grow some hair.
Sadistic little man. Grow some hair. Crystal Ball
  • Score: 10

2:59pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Amanda Smith-Yeates says...

9:16am and no animal rights extremists yelling blue murder and calling for the pest controllers head.They must still be in bed watching morning tv...

Um because you fool...if you argue with a fool you then have two

Maybe a more intelligent reply like giving concern that these foxes being killed may have babies depended on them in their den would have got you a better answer @ 9.16 when most people are at work or busy trying to make this world a better place?
9:16am and no animal rights extremists yelling blue murder and calling for the pest controllers head.They must still be in bed watching morning tv... Um because you fool...if you argue with a fool you then have two Maybe a more intelligent reply like giving concern that these foxes being killed may have babies depended on them in their den would have got you a better answer @ 9.16 when most people are at work or busy trying to make this world a better place? Amanda Smith-Yeates
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Wed 12 Feb 14

boo2005 says...

he certainly looks very comfortable carrying that gun, apart from the money, I would suggest he enjoys killing 'easy prey', he looks smug enough!
he certainly looks very comfortable carrying that gun, apart from the money, I would suggest he enjoys killing 'easy prey', he looks smug enough! boo2005
  • Score: 7

3:22pm Wed 12 Feb 14

getThisCoalitionOut says...

OMG what an ugly thug

Foxes do not attack children, people, cats, dogs or anything other than what they kill for food.

Foxes are terrified of people and especially would be so with children who are usually very noisy and excitable.

What a stupid waste of life - foxes die all the time, very few live more than a year thanks to the way our country is.

I love foxes and encourage them into my garden.

I've got a dog and a cat and neither are scared of the foxes that visit - they vary all the time as foxes move on - another factor that this man doesn't know - one fox who was tracked moved 135 miles away.

I'd rather have a fox in my garden than that vile man.
OMG what an ugly thug Foxes do not attack children, people, cats, dogs or anything other than what they kill for food. Foxes are terrified of people and especially would be so with children who are usually very noisy and excitable. What a stupid waste of life - foxes die all the time, very few live more than a year thanks to the way our country is. I love foxes and encourage them into my garden. I've got a dog and a cat and neither are scared of the foxes that visit - they vary all the time as foxes move on - another factor that this man doesn't know - one fox who was tracked moved 135 miles away. I'd rather have a fox in my garden than that vile man. getThisCoalitionOut
  • Score: 11

5:23pm Wed 12 Feb 14

compaq1 says...

“Foxes are more likely to be a problem because they leave their excrement in gardens where children are playing.”
Does he shoot cats then? And if not, why not?
“Foxes are more likely to be a problem because they leave their excrement in gardens where children are playing.” Does he shoot cats then? And if not, why not? compaq1
  • Score: 7

10:09am Fri 14 Feb 14

SoundSerpent says...

can't the schools do something positivepossessions that this so human need to kill everything we fear, don't understand, or which gets in our way, why not do something creative. The school could get the children to study the foxes & take pictures of them and draw and paint them. Don't forget how much of the foxes natural habitat we have destroyed! As for residents having foxes exterminated! If one person doesn't like foxes, but everyone else living around them does, does that give that one person the right to have a fox killed? Some of the very blasé comments made on this matter, seem very heartless. Perhaps these people would be happier to live in a concrete world, without nature, more satisfied by the amount of material possessions that they can accumulate. My advise to them is, lock yourself in your house, get on the Internet and stay there! Leave the rest of us to enjoy this amazing free natural world that we've been privileged enough to be born into!
can't the schools do something positivepossessions that this so human need to kill everything we fear, don't understand, or which gets in our way, why not do something creative. The school could get the children to study the foxes & take pictures of them and draw and paint them. Don't forget how much of the foxes natural habitat we have destroyed! As for residents having foxes exterminated! If one person doesn't like foxes, but everyone else living around them does, does that give that one person the right to have a fox killed? Some of the very blasé comments made on this matter, seem very heartless. Perhaps these people would be happier to live in a concrete world, without nature, more satisfied by the amount of material possessions that they can accumulate. My advise to them is, lock yourself in your house, get on the Internet and stay there! Leave the rest of us to enjoy this amazing free natural world that we've been privileged enough to be born into! SoundSerpent
  • Score: 2

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