Get Worthing Council to ensure a fox family's safety during big building project

Get Worthing Council to ensure a fox family's safety during big building project

3 June 2020
Petition to
Worthing Council Planning and Building Control and 1 other
This petition made change with 10,380 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Fox Guardians

A vixen called Ophelia is currently rearing her three cubs in a re-wildered garden in Worthing town. The large garden has been untouched by humans for two years and has become a safe haven for wildlife but within a few weeks on the 20.7. building work to redevelop the West Worthing House into 19 self-contained flats is set to begin. The peace and quiet will be shattered by the cacophony of building work and the tall soft grass replaced with piles of rubble, machinery and fencing. This is bad timing for the fox family as the earth where the cubs were born is still very much active. The cubs are only three months old and still dependent on their parents to provide food as well as guidance on how to explore the habitat around them safely.

We have advised Worthing Council who are the owners and developers of the site in writing that the active fox earth is currently protected under the “Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996” which forbids causing injury or death to wildlife by crushing or asphyxiation–the dire consequences of filling in the fox den at this stage. We also offered to meet the developers and a construction company representative on site to advise them on the area where the foxes are inhabiting, and make sure that during the development the council will not fall foul of any Wildlife Legislation.

With the help of this petition we would like Worthing council to commit in writing to:

  1. Preserve the fox earth whilst it is still active
  2. Not willfully harm the foxes by culling them
  3. Make the ground workers aware of the presence of vulnerable cubs so will work mindfully as to not willfully harm the foxes or hurt them through negligence

It is important to note that trapping and re-releasing elsewhere these foxes is not an option. Firstly it is illegal to trap healthy wild animals and randomly re-release them. Secondly, it would be extremely cruel for the fox to be handled in this way. Trapping is always a very stressful experience for a wild animal. To release that animal away from their extensive social network, in an unknown environment that will most likely be the territory of another fox, means that the released fox will most likely be attacked and possibly injured by the resident fox that is defending their patch. The result for the relocated fox is the sad life of a so-called “itinerant” fox – a fox that wanders around aimlessly and starving without a set territory of their own; without a place to hunt, eat and rest up safely.

What we can do for Ophelia, her partner and their cubs is to enable them to have a slow transition, so they can grasp the changes to their environment and move on by themselves when they are ready to. The cubs will naturally disperse by the end of summer and I trust that Ophelia will succeed in finding a new habitat that will be suitable to build a den for her cubs that may be born in spring 2021.  If you live and West Worthing and notice a vixen visiting your garden for the first time, please welcome her to share your space as this could be Ophelia or another fox who just lost their home because of building work.

This is my first petition. As a local resident who is a naturalist, filmmaker and wildlife advocate I could not turn a blind eye towards the plight of this fox family when a fellow fox lover informed me of the fox earth located on the building site.

Ever since two fox cubs turned my garden into their playground in 2016, I have been fascinated by foxes and started to deeply care about these iconic and indigenous animals. I believe our gardens are precious windows into the wild.  Foxes are no threats to humans and we can coexist in harmony. I founded Fox Guardians to monitor and support vulnerable urban foxes and to educate the public about this much-maligned species with educational fox films.

Watch the short film about Ophelia and her cubs here:

Ophelia's Petition Film

You can more information about urban foxes, watch fox films and download fox fact sheets here:

If you want to support our campaign by making a donation, please make a direct donation to




This petition made change with 10,380 supporters!

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  • Worthing Council Planning and Building Control
  • Cheesmur Building Contractors