Foxes – Be Sly Like Them, Let Them Alone

Over the last few years, we have received a lot of calls in the spring from residents concerned because they have seen fox in the area/yard.  As the Township does not deal with ‘nuisance’ wildlife, we have done some research to make residents aware of why they may show up in populated areas this time of year:2 fox

  • It is not all that unusual for a fox to be seen out and about during the day. Foxes prey on squirrels, birds, chipmunks, and other animals that are only active by day, so they may simply be looking for a meal at that time. A fox cutting through your yard is probably just passing through on their way between hunting areas and no action is necessary on your part.
  • Foxes are not dangerous to humans, except when they are rabid (which is very rare) or when they are captured and handled. Even then, a fox’s natural tendency is to flee rather than fight. Observe the fox’s behavior, and look for these signs to see if it could possibly be rabid:
    • Partial paralysis or the inability to use their limbs well.
    • Circling or staggering as if drunk.
    • Self-mutilation.
    • Acting aggressively for no reason.
    • Acting unnaturally tame.
    • If you observe these signs, do not approach the fox—remember exposure to rabies is primarily through bites or saliva.
  • Foxes dig dens mostly for raising kits (their babies), but also to use as shelter from severe winter weather. They do not live in the den year-round.
  • Foxes come close to people to raise their families because coyotes are in the further out areas. If a coyote finds a fox den, it may dig up the den and kill all the young.  Foxes know this so they choose what they believe to be the lesser of two evils and come in closer to humans and away from the coyotes to have their litters.
  • Pups are born in the spring, usually in March or April and are fully furred with their eyes closed. Litter size is usually between 4-7. They start to emerge from the den at four or five weeks.
  • Dens under porches, decks or sheds are not uncommon in urban areas. If you find a fox family in an inconvenient spot, consider allowing them to stay until the young are old enough (usually around 9 weeks) to begin accompanying their parents on foraging outings. At this point they are nearly ready to say goodbye to the den site and move on for good.
  • Foxes may prey on small pets or livestock (such as rabbits, guinea pigs or chickens), so pets should be kept indoors or housed in sturdy structures. A typical adult cat is almost the same size as a fox and has a well-deserved reputation for self-defence, so foxes are generally not interested in taking such cats on. Kittens and very small (less than five pounds) adult cats, however, could be prey for a fox. The best way to avoid encounters between foxes and cats is to keep them indoors. Most dogs are not at risk from an attack by a fox unless they have threatened its young but should still be monitored or leashed when outside. Miniature dogs in particular.

If you wish to have the foxes removed, as mentioned, the Township does not interfere with wildlife, so a nuisance wildlife company would need to be contacted.

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