ANIMAL lovers are being warned to stop feeding Canvey’s foxes because they are causing a serious health risk.

Frustrated residents have claimed hundreds of the animals have made their home on the island and the situation is getting worse because people are leaving food out for them.

They believe many of the foxes are in poor condition and carry diseases, which they could pass on to humans.

John Fairchild, 67, said he has confronted neighbours who have been leaving food out for the animals for the past seven years.

He said: “I’ve asked them to stop feeding them, but it goes in one ear and out the other. We’re absolutely infested with foxes down here. People forget they are dirty vermin which urinate and mess everywhere.

“It’s actually dangerous to let children play in the gardens around here because of what they might put their hands in.”

It is not known how many foxes are on Canvey, but most residents estimate the figure to be well over 1,000.

There are also concerns theirnumbers will only increase as they are on an island and have a plentiful food supply.

Ray Howard, Conservative councillor for Canvey West, has also urged residents to stop feeding the animals.

He said: “As much as I respect people who love wildlife I’m getting a lot of representations that they are out of control on Canvey.

“I believe they are a threat to people’s health because they carry disease.

“I’m also concerned because these animals are always running out into the road and when motorists try to avoid them there’s a chance of an accident.”

Last year there were calls for the animals to be culled because the situation had got so bad.

Castle Point Council said the measure was too costly and potentially dangerous and instead urged people not to feed them and to keep their rubbish in wheelie bins.

However, Mr Howard has now called for a public meeting on the issue.

He added: “Things have got out of control and there needs to be open discussion about this so we can find the best way to proceed.”