Farmers in Borgarbyggd in West Iceland’s Borgarfjördur are becoming frustrated with recent budget cuts to the agriculture industry in the region. Earlier this week, farmer Sigurjón Jóhannsson was the first to discover a lamb that had been bitten in the neck artery by a fox; the lamb survived the attack.
“I was just heading home at noon and noticed a herd of sheep stamping around. I went to check up on them and watched as a fox bit a lamb in the neck damaging the neck artery. I have never seen anything like it before, “ he told Morgunbladid. Jóhannsson was armed but the fox escaped before he was able to prep the firearm.
Photo by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir
The lamb survived the attack but injuries are visible; the lamb belongs to neighboring farmer Andrés Ölversson.
“The lamb is doing fine, it was very lucky the fox did not damage the trachea or esophagus. It is on antibiotics and is back with the herd, ” he told Morgunbladid.
Ölvarsson says reduced funding to fox hunts are to blame. “Hunters are not willing to spend money on shooting an animal for which they get nothing, there is nothing in it for them anymore and we understand their position. However, as farmers we suffer with an expanding fox population.”
Earlier this week, fox hunter and farmer in Borgarbyggd Hálfdán Helgason and fox hunter Jón Axel Jónsson came across a two months old lamb that had been half-eaten. Jónsson was unable to tell whether the lamb had been killed by a fox or devoured by one. “A fox will usually bite into the neck or the snout,” Jónsson explained.
Fox hunting increased from 2001 when 326 foxes were hunted and 2008 when 476 foxes were hunted.
Borgarbyggd in Borgarfjördur reduced county funding to fox and mink hunts in 2009 and since then Borgarbyggd has spent roughly ISK 4.000.000 (USD 34.300 or EUR 24.250) per year, receiving a refund of ISK 1.000.000 (USD 8.600 or EUR 6.050) from the state.
However, this year the state will not sponsor fox hunting in the county or any other county in Iceland. The local council has asked the Agriculture committee to re-evaluate the state’s disposition, according to the county’s official website.