Fears grow for Sam the Fox recently spotted around Government formation talks

Urban fox appears to have a bad case of mange and looks emaciated

Since lockdown began Sam the Fox has been frequently spotted in Dublin city centre.

She was filmed in April striding through a near deserted Grafton Street during the height of the lockdown.

Early in May, photographer Paul Lanigan took a dramatic photograph of her with a bird in her mouth strolling through Temple Bar as if she owned the place.

Her condition has clearly deteriorated since then. Green Party TD Roderic O'Gorman said he spotted her in the grounds of Agriculture House near Leinster House during the marathon government formation talks on the weekend before last.


“I was in the stairwell looking out the big glass window. She barely paid me any notice. She was so busy at herself with the mange,” he said.

“She was a break from everything else that was going on. I hope she can be humanely treated for the manage.”

Mr O'Gorman saw her again on Monday in the car park of Leinster House at the Merrion Street entrance looking emaciated and unwell. He shared the photograph on his Twitter account.

There were many quips on Twitter about Sam not being the only sly fox around Leinster House or the most cunning of them all as was famously said about Bertie Ahern.

Her condition is no laughing matter though, says Trinity College Dublin zoologist Collie Ennis.

Sam is about a year old and is mostly likely a vixen (female fox), he believes. She was kicked out of her den in Merrion Square by her parents and has been roaming the streets of Dublin city centre ever since.

Though Dublin has gradually opened up, the restaurants and pubs, which might have provided scraps for her, remain closed until Monday.

“ Sam has severe mange and is looking very underweight and lethargic. Ideally he/she needs to be caught and treated for mange in a wildlife rehabilitation centre,” he says.

“With restrictions being lifted that might be easier to do now. But it’s hard to predict where any wild animal might show up at any given time. Hopefully we get lucky.”

Food has been left out for the animal, but unfortunately Sam faces competition from voracious seagulls who are swooping down as soon as it arrives.

“There are other foxes and cats in the area though so plenty of competition,” he said.

Mange, which also affects dogs, is caused by a mite and is highly infectious. It can also be deadly causing fur to fall out which mitigates against an animal controlling its own body temperature.

Mange can cause fox populations to decline. The good news is that it is easily treatable, but catching a wild animal like Sam is as much about luck as it is about science.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times