A vixen frequently spotted in the vicinity of Merrion Street appears to have left her mark on Government Buildings, where pest controllers detected “a strong smell of fox urine” in a room close to the Taoiseach’s office.
Sam the Fox came to public attention on social media after making a number of appearances near Leinster House during government formation talks last June, and has also been photographed elsewhere in the city centre.
It appears that she may have paid a visit to the Department of An Taoiseach in the course of her travels, likely gaining access through one of 72 access points that were identified by an environmental company in October 2019 as being so big that “wildlife larger than a rat could easily fit through”.
Records released under freedom of information laws show that pest controllers were struck by a strong smell of fox urine in the department during a callout in response to the discovery of a dead rat under a raised floor in the building in September 2019.
The distinct odour was detected in a cable room beside the “comms room” in the Taoiseach’s department.
The pest control company recommended that a “thorough deep clean” of the area be carried out.
A “strong smell of urine” was again detected less than a fortnight later, but this time rodents were blamed for the stench, as it was traced to an area with “a high level of rat droppings” next to a dry goods store in the building.
Rodents were a recurring problem in the Department of An Taoiseach, according to the pest control reports, while pigeon fouling “next to the ministers’ entrance” was considered a “disease risk and safety hazard” for people in the area.
Mice were detected in both a ground-floor kitchen and the kitchen adjacent to the Italian Room, where “constant open food sources on surfaces” were blamed for the infestation.
This was “a possible disease risk for staff eating in this area”, according to the reports.
An audit by an environmental services company in October 2019 pinpointed 72 access points in the Department of An Taoiseach, which required works to prevent the entry of rodents and other wildlife.
The company estimated that proofing works would cost €8,330 plus VAT. However, a separate company was ultimately hired to identify and seal access points for a total of €1,450 plus VAT.
There were concerns for the welfare of Sam the Fox last summer after she appeared to be suffering from mange. However, a zoologist at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) succeeded in medicating the animal and she has since appeared to be in good health.