A flurry of sightings of Britain’s rarest animal in Halifax has prompted speculation there is now a breeding pair of elusive - BLACK FOXES.
The stunning animal gets its unusual colouring from a super-rare genetic defect and has only been spotted a handful of times in recent history.
But astonishingly there have been four sightings in Halifax, this year - suggesting there must be a new breeding pair.
It is thought the fox must be a descendant of the famous ‘Black Fox Bob’ - only the FIFTH black fox confirmed sighting - who died in Halifax last year.
The recent sightings mean he was not the only one left - and that there must be two breeding foxes carrying the recessive gene.
The most recent sighting was reported by Mateja Kuder, 42, who spotted the black fox sunning itself on a wall in the garden of the home on last month 7.30am.
She said: “After I closed the window I looked up she was looking at me.
“I took off my slippers and started to run across the house to find where my tablet was so that I could take some photos.
“To my surprise when I came back she was still there.
“There was less than a metre between us.
“I was taking photos for around five minutes.
“I knew it was a fox and thought it wasn’t a big deal until I did some research and realised how rare it was.
“When you think ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ the answer is apparently ‘in Halifax’.”
The unusual colouring is normally seen on growing cubs before the fox develops its dark chestnut coat.
But some red foxes remain black due to a rare genetic glitch, which dates back hundreds of years.
Both parents have to carry the rarer recessive melanic gene - that causes a black coat - but even then there is only a 1 in 4 chance of having a cub with a dark coat.
The only ‘guarantee’ of producing a black cub is if TWO melanic foxes mate.
The first sighting took place in a garden in Halifax where it spent 20 minutes exploring in January.
Another was was spotted “two metres away” from a resident in the town earlier this month who said: “It was black with a bit of silver and my dogs do not put it off my house.”
Then Craig Brennan, 47, spotted the incredible creature on his patio.
He said: “I was in the kitchen when out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shadow.
“As you can see from the pic we have patio doors and I thought was just a reflection but when I got close to the window then I saw it was a black fox.
“I thought it was a dog a first but the pointy snout and bushy tail gave it away.
“It was sniffing round the bird table we have on the decking.
“After a minute or two and after looking at me it decided to slope off back down the decking steps, through our garden and disappeared again.
“I have heard lots since how rare to see one of these so feel very privileged and hope it visits again.”
Hayley de Ronde, spokesperson for Black Foxes UK said she believed the recent sightings were descendants of ‘Black Fox Bob’.
The former zookeeper said: “We have a suspicion that the most recent sighting is the same fox and a relative of the famous Black Fox Bob.
“There is certainly a higher concentration of melanism in the area than you would expect.
“It is also possible that the appearance of melanism in UK foxes is natural and it is topography and inbreeding that is keeping the gene expressed in small communities.
“I hope we find out one day!
“I don’t think the Halifax sightings are lost pets.
“Melanistic animals are naturally bolder than their non melanistic counterparts, and now breeding season is over and weaning is about to begin it may be that the fox just felt the need to take advantage of what peoples gardens had to offer.”
They are the rarest animal in Britain, partly because they were extensively hunted for their fur in the past.
In Gaelic tradition, black foxes are bringers of bad luck and in Medieval times, villages were afraid of seeing one, believing it was an omen of trouble or bad luck.
It has been speculated in the past that the seemingly high concentration of black foxes in Halifax could be down to a collection of pets released during WW2.
It has been rumoured a local man let them all go when he was called up to fight.