Neighborhood foxes adjust to city living
Several years ago, I started noticing signs of foxes around the house. This may be no big deal to some, but I live on the main street in a small but fairly busy town.
First I would just see tracks in the snow, but over time, I started seeing the animals themselves, and so did many others in the city. There were several living around town. It was neat seeing them go about their business. I theorized that with increasing numbers of larger canines living outside of town, the fox came in to the city limits where there is plenty of food and fewer predators. I also noticed that as the fox numbers increased, the number of loose neighborhood cats decreased. I’m not sure if the fox were eating cats, but I cheered them on.
This past year, a family of foxes took up residence in a city park. People would stop often to photograph and feed them. The photos were one thing, but feeding wild animals is rarely a good thing. Down the road, a local gas station set out food for the foxes and encouraged others to feed them with cut-up hot dogs available over the counter. Eventually, as the members of the fox family lost their wariness around humans, the city had to evict them from the park.
The park fox family – the vixen and two kits, anyway – moved in across the street from our house and we watched their numbers dwindle. The vixen was identifiable by a limp in one of her back legs. She seemed to get around pretty well until something else happened – a close encounter with a car, perhaps – and she ended up with a broken front leg. The kits were in traffic often, and when one of them disappeared, we figured it, too, had been hit by a car.
We all know that animals don’t live long in the wild. They starve, get eaten, get hit by cars while crossing roads, zapped by lightning, flooded out of nests and dens – you name it. So while I’m not surprised to see the city’s foxes succumb to similar causes, I have to believe the humans with good intentions didn’t help.