More than 50 fox dens at the VRT's Broadcasting Centre

The garden and woods at the VRT’s broadcasting centre in the Brussels municipality of Schaarbeek have long been home to urban foxes. Those of us that have worked late or early shifts have often seen foxes on our way into work. Until the 1990’s foxes were seldom seen in Brussels. However, over the past 25 years they have become a regular sight in many parts of the city. With the planned building work on the site that the VRT shares with our Francophone counterpart RTBF, concern had been expressed about the foxes' future at the Broadcasting Centre site.

Over the next four years the current broadcasting centre that was built in the early 1970’s will be knocked down and two new buildings, one for the VRT and one for RTBF will be constructed to the rear of the current broadcasting centre building.

There are also plans for flats on the site and the green areas that are left will become a park that unlike now will be open to the general public.

However, the VRT is able to reassure fox fans that the changes are unlikely to drive away their furry friends. Foxes are extremely good at adapting to changing circumstances.

The high number of dens, more than 50 in total at the VRT/RTBF site, are proof of this. Last year a whole family of the creatures, a mother, a father and two cubs, were spotted in the woods at the back of the broadcasting centre.

Young foxes are very curious and many VRT employees and children that were attending the holiday club in the woods during the school vacation were able to get very close to the fox cubs.

The great opportunist

Foxes adapt very quickly to changing circumstances and the foxes that live on the Broadcasting Centre site are no exception.

The VRT foxes do of course eat insects and rodents that live the in the woods at the rear of the site. However, they can also be seen foraging for food in and around rubbish skips and even in the garages and workshops here at the VRT.

One of our colleagues recently spotted one of the foxes eating a slice of pizza from a discarded pizza box. This kind of opportunist behaviour has been the foxes' saviour.

Many foxes are still killed by hunters and farmers or are run over by cars, trucks and busses.

58 dens found in just a couple of weeks

The man in charge of managing the building site during the construction work on the VRT’s new broadcasting centre Raf Verbist decided to enlist the help of a small team of experts from inside and outside the VRT to study the flora and fauna at the Broadcasting Centre site.

In just a couple of week’s six members of the team found no fewer than 58 fox dens. Some were new and still in use, while others were abandoned. Their work is on-going so more dens could still be found. During their search they were “escorted” by a fox that marked his or her territory by urinating at strategic spots.

It is inevitable that the construction work will result in the destruction of some of the fox dens, as some of the area where the foxes currently have their dens will be used as a temporary car park.

Before the dens can be destroyed, the VRT will first have to obtain the permission of the Brussels-Capital Region’s Environment Service. However, there are more than just foxes that live on the Broadcasting Centre site.

The team of experts is also examining other wild animals such as rare arvicolinae (rodents), squirrels and birds that live in the woods and the garden.