Are foxes cats or dogs?
In the United Kingdom, they say they're the same, that dogs are the natural predator of foxes and that foxes are not native to the country. The argument comes from the fact that foxes were only introduced to Europe around 300 years ago.
However, there are two points I'm curious about:
1. The UK has foxes, and no wild dogs. Why is this? Are foxes from the USA invading?
2. Dogs and foxes do co-exist in some parts of the world. In Europe, for example, there are some farms that breed foxes for fur. It's not common to see wild foxes and dogs in the same area, but foxes are more commonly seen in that environment.
In the UK, Foxes are most commonly seen in urban areas. They are introduced to cities through the pet trade - as pets that can be trained to hunt vermin, they can be released in parks, or even caged in city gardens. They're quite popular, so you'll often see them running amok.
When it comes to natural fox populations, there are very few in England, and even less in Scotland. The only population of wild foxes you can reliably expect to see is in the Scottish Highlands, and even they are not native. There are various theories about how they came to be in Scotland, but they are not thought to have been introduced intentionally.
In the US, foxes and dogs live side by side. It is relatively common for dogs to hunt foxes for the bounty, and sometimes for hunting. If it's not hunting season for a dog or fox, they can co-exist peacefully.
Foxes, on the other hand, live in a wide variety of environments. They're not really considered a "native" species to most of the US, and so are not often encountered there. The only really native populations in the US live in small islands and peninsulas, and they are highly endangered and considered to be in decline.
As far as I know, all foxes are introduced, including the European, African, and Asian foxes. As you say, they have invaded parts of Europe because they can hunt rabbits and other vermin that are introduced into an area. But as for how that happened, it was an accidental import of domestic foxes in Britain, by hunters who imported them from the US or elsewhere to release them in an area where they would be most useful.
I am not sure what you mean about wild foxes being "native to the UK". I can see how you could say it was not native to Scotland, but as far as England and Wales, I do not know if anyone is claiming it is a native species. But I would agree that it is not native to the USA either, at least in terms of its current population.
Dogs and foxes do not normally coexist, although they can in the wild. They generally don't because of the dog's tendency to kill foxes. But there are situations where they can coexist peacefully, like in parts of Australia and New Zealand. It is even possible for them to coexist in the US, but there are no fox populations there now and there hasn't been any for a very long time.
This is the first time I've heard of them being introduced intentionally in Britain, so I would have to say they were introduced on purpose in Scotland and Ireland, not in England.
My question was whether or not they're actually dogs in the first place. If they're not, then that explains it. :) I didn't even think about it until you mentioned it.
GibbyNov 9 '11 at 21:24
I think what I'm asking is why they're called "Foxes" and not "Wild Dogs".
GibbyNov 9 '11 at 21:28
You're welcome :) You do seem to be asking more than I'd expect a single question to address...
GibbyNov 9 '11 at 21:36
I think the reason they're not called "Wild Dogs" is simply because there aren't any in England. Dogs have been around there for many thousands of years, since the Romans brought them. But foxes are a fairly recent development, from England, in the 19th century, to be exact.
Dan NelsonNov 9 '11 at 21:38
If dogs are not native, it would explain why there is not a similar dog to fox population.
JefromiNov 10 '11 at 11:23
"Why are foxes called foxes" is a different question than "Why are foxes not called dogs?"
Olin LarkinNov 10 '11 at 11:35
@Olin Larkin: As an American, I'm inclined to agree with you on this. I can see where you might have some justification for saying there was a reason for why the word fox came about, but I don't know if any such reason is as reasonable as the one you're using. It doesn't seem to me as though it would make much sense.
GibbyNov 10 '11 at 16:48
The question is a bit silly but I'm asking anyway. When you said 'foxes are more commonly seen in that environment', you are referring to the wild ones, right?
Olin LarkinNov 10 '11 at 17:21
@Olin Larkin: Sorry for the ambiguity, I was referring to the domestic fox population (not wild). Yes, foxes are more common in farms than wild. They are domesticated to hunt vermin.
GibbyNov 10 '11 at 19:16
@Olin Larkin: It seems more like a coincidence than anything, but there's another reason you might not see wild dogs. The native wild dogs have been eradicated over the