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Carnivores have teeth specialised for cutting up their prey ready for eating. Most have been persecuted by man in the past, some to extinction or close to it.

The fox has been and still is persecuted but despite this it is increasing, mainly by extending its range into urban areas where our wasteful habits present it with plenty of free food.

Stoats and weasels are widespread across those parts of Essex that offer both cover and prey, but both are declining.

Otters were driven out of Essex last century mainly as a result of persecution and pollution of the water courses where they hunted for food. Now legally protected and with water quality improving, they are spreading back into their old haunts.

With their association with bovine TB, badgers are controversial animals. Despite legal protection, they are still at risk from badger-baiters and unscrupulous farmers, and many die on our busy roads.

© Bill Varney