Foxes could crawl through maternity ward windows and endanger babies, says hospital considering cull

Sarah Knapton
A diseased fox has been seen loitering around the maternity wards at Bristol Southmead Hospital 

A hospital in Bristol is considering culling foxes outside a maternity unit because they believe the animals could climb in through the windows and pose a threat to newborns.

Bristol Southmead Hospital announced last week that pest controllers would ‘remove’ the animals ‘to ensure the safety of mothers and babies.’

NHS managers said they had become aware of one animal in particular which looked diseased, and had been seen in public areas.

However the proposal has sparked an outcry from locals and conservationists who have set up a petition which has already attracted hundreds of signatures.

Bristol Southmead Hospital 

The hospital said it had temporarily halted its plan and was consulting with animal groups.

"Foxes have lived peacefully on the site for a number of years,” a spokesman said. “However, recently we have had more sightings of foxes particularly around our maternity unit.

"To clarify, we contacted pest control because we are particularly concerned about one of the foxes who looks like it may be unwell. The fox has become bolder in behaviour and is being sighted more regularly in public areas.

"So far we have contacted some alternative animal welfare organisations and we are pausing all existing activity while we consider their recommendations."

Details of the initial cull were first announced on the hospital’s Facebook page, in a post which warned that many of the maternity unit’s windows were left open during the summer, and said there was a ‘potential risk of foxes entering the building.’

Plans of a cull have been temporarily halted to allow animal groups to propose alternatives

But within hours, people had complained about the plans.

Nikki Hamilton posted: "I love the NHS and will always defend to the hilt but not happy that exterminators are killing the foxes", while Caroline Littlewood said she was "appalled" by the plans.

Debbie Swatton added: “Shame on you Southmead Hospital and Carillion. I’m sure if you had sought advice from a wildlife sanctuary, such as Secret World or Badger Care Wildlife, they would have helped in a more caring way.”

The hospital said it was now looking at other ways to deter the animals and said it had not killed any foxes.

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