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Rapid urbanization of red foxes in Estonia: distribution, behaviour, attacks on domestic animals, and health-risks related to zoonotic diseases.

Plumer L, Davison J, Saarma U - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Urban areas are becoming increasingly important for wildlife as diminishing natural habitats no longer represent a suitable environment for many species.In total, 1205 responses were collected throughout the country.In addition to mange, a substantial fraction of red foxes in Estonia are known to be infected with the life-threatening tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.

ABSTRACT
Urban areas are becoming increasingly important for wildlife as diminishing natural habitats no longer represent a suitable environment for many species. Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are nowadays common in many cities worldwide, and in recent years they have colonized urban areas in Estonia. We used a public web-based questionnaire approach to evaluate the distribution and behaviour of Estonian urban foxes, to detect related problems and to assess health risks to humans and domestic animals. In total, 1205 responses were collected throughout the country. Foxes have colonized the majority of Estonian towns (33 out of 47) in a relatively short period of time, and have already established breeding dens in several towns. Despite their recent arrival, the behaviour of Estonian urban foxes is similar to that reported in longer-established urban fox populations: they are mostly active during night-time, often visit city centres and some also have dens in such locations. Certain characteristics of urban foxes serve as a basis for conflict with humans: foxes have entered houses and attacked domestic animals, killing cats and poultry. About 8% of reported foxes exhibited symptoms of sarcoptic mange, a disease that also infects domestic animals, especially dogs. The proportion of mange-infected foxes was higher in large urban areas. In addition to mange, a substantial fraction of red foxes in Estonia are known to be infected with the life-threatening tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis. Therefore, urban foxes may represent a source of serious infectious disease for pets and humans.

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Distribution of fox sightings in different months.NA denotes sightings where the month was not specified.
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pone-0115124-g003: Distribution of fox sightings in different months.NA denotes sightings where the month was not specified.

Mentions: Foxes were most frequently sighted in winter, particularly in December and January (Fig. 3). The proportion of records occurring in winter (December, January and February) was generally higher in larger towns though the relationship was marginally non-significant (area, GLM; χ2 = 2.66; df = 1; p = 0.10; parameter estimate ±s.e. = 0.0018±0.0011) (population size, GLM; χ2 = 1.73; df = 1; p = 0.18; parameter estimate ±s.e. = 5.5e−7±4.2e−7). In about half of the instances where people posted multiple replies, they reported seeing foxes repeatedly in the same place in summer (June, July and August) (χ2 = 25.36; df = 11; p<0.05). Foxes were seen most often at night (49%), but also at dusk (29%) and in daylight (22%). People most often saw foxes in towns while walking (45%) or when using a motor vehicle (27%), and about a quarter of people saw foxes from the window of a building.


Rapid urbanization of red foxes in Estonia: distribution, behaviour, attacks on domestic animals, and health-risks related to zoonotic diseases.

Plumer L, Davison J, Saarma U - PLoS ONE (2014)

Distribution of fox sightings in different months.NA denotes sightings where the month was not specified.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4274007&req=5

pone-0115124-g003: Distribution of fox sightings in different months.NA denotes sightings where the month was not specified.
Mentions: Foxes were most frequently sighted in winter, particularly in December and January (Fig. 3). The proportion of records occurring in winter (December, January and February) was generally higher in larger towns though the relationship was marginally non-significant (area, GLM; χ2 = 2.66; df = 1; p = 0.10; parameter estimate ±s.e. = 0.0018±0.0011) (population size, GLM; χ2 = 1.73; df = 1; p = 0.18; parameter estimate ±s.e. = 5.5e−7±4.2e−7). In about half of the instances where people posted multiple replies, they reported seeing foxes repeatedly in the same place in summer (June, July and August) (χ2 = 25.36; df = 11; p<0.05). Foxes were seen most often at night (49%), but also at dusk (29%) and in daylight (22%). People most often saw foxes in towns while walking (45%) or when using a motor vehicle (27%), and about a quarter of people saw foxes from the window of a building.

Bottom Line: Urban areas are becoming increasingly important for wildlife as diminishing natural habitats no longer represent a suitable environment for many species.In total, 1205 responses were collected throughout the country.In addition to mange, a substantial fraction of red foxes in Estonia are known to be infected with the life-threatening tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.

ABSTRACT
Urban areas are becoming increasingly important for wildlife as diminishing natural habitats no longer represent a suitable environment for many species. Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are nowadays common in many cities worldwide, and in recent years they have colonized urban areas in Estonia. We used a public web-based questionnaire approach to evaluate the distribution and behaviour of Estonian urban foxes, to detect related problems and to assess health risks to humans and domestic animals. In total, 1205 responses were collected throughout the country. Foxes have colonized the majority of Estonian towns (33 out of 47) in a relatively short period of time, and have already established breeding dens in several towns. Despite their recent arrival, the behaviour of Estonian urban foxes is similar to that reported in longer-established urban fox populations: they are mostly active during night-time, often visit city centres and some also have dens in such locations. Certain characteristics of urban foxes serve as a basis for conflict with humans: foxes have entered houses and attacked domestic animals, killing cats and poultry. About 8% of reported foxes exhibited symptoms of sarcoptic mange, a disease that also infects domestic animals, especially dogs. The proportion of mange-infected foxes was higher in large urban areas. In addition to mange, a substantial fraction of red foxes in Estonia are known to be infected with the life-threatening tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, the causative agent of alveolar echinococcosis. Therefore, urban foxes may represent a source of serious infectious disease for pets and humans.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus