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06/13/2013

Unleash the hounds of Islington, says Boris

Boris Johnson

If there's one thing London Mayor Boris Johnson hates, its foxes.  And he has a plan. Sort of. LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Foxes are to London what raccoons are to Toronto. They get into your rubbish, they make shocking noises during mating season, and they rip apart your garden.

They have also recently been blamed for attacks on pets and children. Two little girls were very seriously injured in 2010 by a fox who attacked them in their crib, and earlier this year an infant had his finger ripped off by one of the pointy-faced predators.

Enter London Mayor Boris Johnson, who believed his cat had been attacked by a fox in his north London neighbourhood. He was so enraged, Boris said, he considered using his rifle to dispatch the offending critter to fox heaven.

"This will cause massive unpopularity and I don't care," the Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying. "If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I'm all for it."

So this is a good idea and there's no way anyone's going to get mad about it, because if there's one thing British people are indifferent about it's animals.

"We can only assume the mayor is joking with this prepostorous suggestion," Joe Duckworth, who heads the League Against Cruel Sports, an anti-hunting group, told Metro. "He cannot seriously be suggesting that packs of dogs should be allowed to hunt wildlife through the city or that people should be able to freely walk around with dangerous firearms."

He probably wasn't serious. (But then, with Boris, who knows.) Aside from all that, wading -- even jokingly -- into the fox-hunting issue is also a bad idea. Foxes have fans, and hunting with dogs was outlawed by Tony Blair's Labour government. Despite rumblings from hunt supporters, it's unlikely to be repealed.

But still. The image of a pack of red-clad horsemen galloping down Streatham High Street or through Oxford Circus is pretty funny. Boris does it again. Tally ho.

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. As a journalist with the Associated Press, based in London, she wrote extensively about British politics. Follow her on Twitter @JQStar.

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