19 February 2014 13:33

A group concerned about the welfare of foxes in Cyprus has asked for clarification over the animal’s status in Cyprus following conflicting comments by the Agriculture Minister and a Games Service official.
The Initiative/Intervention for the Protection of the Cyprus fox has launched an online petition calling for the fox’s protection as parliament considers changing the law to allow them to legally be hunted in Cyprus.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, an initiative representative said that beyond the general protection of the Cyprus fox, the group was concerned about apparently conflicting comments by the authorities.
According to a report by the initiative sent to the media yesterday, two Disy MPs—Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis and Andreas Kyprianou - as early as September last year began laying the groundwork for a change to the law to allow foxes to be listed amongst permissible game for hunters, citing concerns over the consequences of their possible overpopulation.
The initiative noted that on January 31 Agriculture Minster Nicos Kouyialis had informed the House that the Environment Department had, in cooperation with the Agriculture Department and Games Services, carried out a study on the potential consequences the overpopulation of foxes would have on the faming sector and wildlife.
“According to a pilot observation programme carried out over three years by staff of the Environmental Department and Games Services, the number of this species was stable. Measures that have been discussed by the relevant services are, at a first stage to use methods of intimidation, mainly in areas where there are farms. Additionally, at a later stage and if the population allow it, control of the species could be undertaken by the Games Services staff, case by case and in accordance to reported problems,” Kouyialis said.
However, as the initiative noted, when the House Environment Committee discussed the bill last Friday, Kyprianou described the fox as a predator with no natural enemies in Cyprus and added: “The opinion of all the residents of the countryside and others using the land is that the situation cannot go on.”
They also expressed concern over a Games Services official telling the committee that there had been a huge increase in the fox population since 2005 and that by last year there were more foxes than hares.
The initiative noted that many scientific studies have shown that the fox “has a very small impact on the population of hunting species but also farmed animals. At the same time they have a positive impact on agriculture as it helps in the decrease of harmful such as rats and crickets”.
The group also notes that foxes were to a greater degree the natural predator of rats and not hares and pointed out that the Red Fox was native to Cyprus.
“We have not had any response to our concerns yet,” the initiative’s representative told the paper yesterday, adding: “Its obvious that someone is saying things as they are and others are not.”
Visit https://www.change.org/petitions/we-demand-the-protection-of-the-cyprus-fox to read the petition and vote.


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