RESIDENTS are calling for a cull of urban foxes on Canvey after a growing number of incidents involving the fast-breeding pests.

Fed-up householders claim foxes are entering their homes, damaging property, raiding bins, spreading disease and even killing family pets.

Fears have increased in recent weeks, in the wake of news reports of the attack on twin baby girls in East London by an urban fox.

There are no figures on the number of foxes living on the island, but one councillor estimates there could be more than 1,000.

Islander John Fairchild, 66, said he was at his wits’ end because the problems foxes have caused him in the past two years.

Foxes killed and ate his pet cat, came into his house on several occasions and chewed garden chairs and tables, he claimed.

Mr Fairchild said: “I definitely want a cull.

“I think everyone on the island does, except for the do-gooders.

“It’s got to the point where you can’t leave your windows or doors open, or a fox will come in.

“I came out of the toilet the other day and there was a fox standing in my lounge, as bold as brass. It’s ridiculous.”

Residents believe the fox problems are down to householders leaving out extra rubbish, less available green space on the island and even some misguided people feeding them.

Liam Smith, 47, who lives in Point Road, said: “People feed them, but they forget these animals are filthy.

“They carry diseases and everything they lick, touch, or defecate on gets contaminated with the same diseases.”

Castle Point Council advises against feeding wild animals but says it has no plans for a cull.

Canvey councillor Dave Blackwell, who owns the Garden World garden centre, said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more than a thousand on the island.

“It’s a serious problem. I’ve had people come to me with little children, afraid to let them go out in the garden because they know there are foxes out there.

“It’s a man-made problem because people leave food out.

“If people stopped doing that, their numbers would decline naturally.”

Castle Point Council chief executive David Marchant said there were no plans for a cull.

He said: “Foxes are common throughout England and there is no evidence there are greater numbers on Canvey than anywhere else.

“Controlling urban foxes is difficult, expensive and hardly ever successful. In the past, a few local authorities have tried, but most have now given up.”

For advice on humanely dealing with foxes, call the Fox Project, on 01892 826222.