Council tells East Preston woman to remove worm-infested fox from garden: ‘Just use a broom’

An East Preston woman has said she felt physically sick after being told by the council to remove a worm-infested fox from her lawn.

Ruth Brass, 79, went outside of her Angmering Lane home at around 7am on Tuesday morning, to find the body of a 3ft fox with a gaping wound in its chest.

She called the council to have it removed but was told that, as it was private land, she would have to put the fox in a bag and dispose of it herself.

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The council officer, she said, suggested using a broom to shift the animal or recruiting a neighbour for assistance.

Ruth Brass, daughter Jess Brass and children Henry 7 and twins Milo and Pi aged 6, and Digby the dog. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

“I think it’s outrageous,” said Ruth, who is widowed.

“I said I am not moving it, it makes me feel sick. Even looking at it from a distance made me feel quite sick. They can’t expect me to touch it – they can’t expect that of anybody.

“A rabbit or a mouse would be hard enough, but a fox? Absolutely not. They said ‘ask a neighbour’, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to move that unless they are correctly clothed and protected. They even said ‘just use a broom’ to get it in the bag. I could have easily caught something.”

Ruth said after much arguing with the council, including the threat of legal action, they relented and a waste disposal truck arrived by around 10am.

The fox carcass in Ruth Brass's garden SUS-190309-144207001

She noted the officers wore protective clothing and had several bags – equipment she would not have had access to were she to have attempted the removal herself.

The carcass was removed just half an hour before her young grandchildren arrived, sparing them the gristly scene.

A spokesman for Arun District Council said: “Responsibility for waste, including dead animals on private land lies with the respective landowner and not the council. When it was established that the resident was unable to deal with it herself, the council referred the matter to its cleansing contractor Biffa. Biffa provide a separate paid for service and dealt with the issue promptly and the fox was removed.

“The council has now updated its contact centre guidance to ensure this option is clear for members of the public, should there be any similar enquiries in future.”