As a pest control officer, I control the number of urban foxes by shooting them at the request of my clients.

They have debated the pros and cons and come to the same conclusion as I do, that in order to reduce the damage, noise, disease potential and increasing attacks on pets and people, it is necessary to reduce the fox population by culling and not to simply move them around.

Pro-fox individuals and organisations only seem interested in cute animals and do not afford the same support to cockroaches, bedbugs or rats because they are not cuddly enough.

Most parents will not tolerate head lice, yet they cause no physical harm. Wasps, fleas and rodents may be undesirable, but they are destroyed in the thousands because they are not cute and are not liked or wanted.

To my knowledge, there are no protection societies for these insects or campaigns to save rats, yet all these creatures are surely as worthy.

Of course, these people will not agree, seeing only their point of view and presenting irrational arguments because of their anthropomorphic attitude towards the cute.

Apparently shooting will not reduce numbers, but culling just before breeding and when cubs venture above ground and throughout the year can and does have a massive impact on numbers.

My opinion is we should be aiming for a 75% cull of urban foxes for a sustainable population of healthier animals. That way we can all enjoy seeing them occasionally without the associated problems.

Trapping them live and man-handling them, subjecting them to examination, will only stress them unnecessarily. They are then released either back into their territory, which defeats the objective, or cruelly and illegally released (abandoned) into another area, which only exacerbates the problem.

My preferred method removes foxes without pain or stress and improves the gene pool. Much of the problems associated with foxes are a learned behaviour – culling serves to prevent this trend.

Tom Keightley, a pest controller