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I Worry About The People, Not The Foxes

Last night on our neighborhood list-serv, someone mentioned that a grey fox was running down the main thoroughfare. But don’t worry, our urban neighbor assured us, she had called animal control.

Animal control? Admittedly, I come from a state so used to wildlife that the big story of recent weeks was that an on-duty cop shot and killed a local elk beloved by residents. I realize I may be on the other extreme. (Though I wouldn’t, say, participate in “

  1. Misthiocracy

    Agreed.

    On the street where my parents live, people have lost pet cats to predators, and still I cannot imagine anyone calling animal control whenever a fox, coyote, deer, otter, moose, etc, wanders nearby.

    Last summer there were three Great Horned Owls lurking about. My parents kept the cat inside, sure, but they also kept a good camera handy to take photos of the majestic birds.

  2. Misthiocracy

    On the other hand, maybe they called animal control because they were afraid for the fox’s welfare.

    With so many train tracks and asphalt, maybe they were afraid that the fox would end up as roadkill.

  3. Merina Smith

    We have a gray fox that likes to come up on our deck to sleep in the shade of the table.  It’s nice. 

  4. Carol Platt Liebau
    C

    In California, we lived near the Huntington Library and Gardens, where the coyote population occasionally would swell.  One morning at 9:30 a.m., I encountered a coyote standing at the bottom of our driveway, watching me without any apparent fear as I drove.  Especially because I had two-year-olds (and a supremely precious Westie), I was concerned.  Directed by local authorities to call the local Humane Society, I was told that we should learn to “share” our space with “wildlife,” which was, after all, “there first.” (!!) I told the HS employee that when the coyotes were paying the level of local taxes that I was — in part so that I didn’t have to carry mace just to take my children and dog for a walk — I would consider “sharing” space with them.  Until then, the humans should have right of way.  Sometimes I still can’t believe the conversation really happened.

  5. Owl of Minerva

    I live in the Research Triangle area in North Carolina, and we see foxes, hawks, and barred owls in the somewhat wooded neighborhood. I find that our cars do a great job of keeping the fox population in check. Since seeing them show up, I just keep the cat inside. He’s no match for a fox except perhaps in a sleeping or whining competition.

    But in my old neighborhood, there was a major deer infestation, and they were proving to be a road hazard as well as a garden nuisance. The problem divided the neighbors who wanted to hunt the deer down versus those who wanted to live in harmony with nature. The hunters tried to compromise by offering to bow hunt the deer like the First Americans, but folks were afraid of errant arrows ending up in their siding and/or children. Another idea was to round up the deer and sterilize them, like the old Progressives wanted to do with the–ahem–”less evolved.” The resolution of the issue never came because the deer just left of their own accord. Perhaps they sensed they were unwelcome?

    The lesson I learned was that I had crazy neighbors.

  6. She

    As with everything else, there’s a balance.  And I say that speaking as my mother’s daughter–the mother who, while washing the car one day on the pad next to the garage, was interrupted by the fox who (which?  that?) was running away from the local hunt.  She shooed it into the garage, closed the door, and then disclaimed all knowledge of it (him? her?) when the Master of the Hunt rode up.  The mother who lived in a place where the bird known as the ‘Mad Pheasant’ would escort all cars out of the small access road from the cottages, at about 3mph, for years, with the full consent of those so inconvenienced.pheasant.jpg

    On the other hand, several of our neighbors have lost sheep to coyotes.  We’ve been lucky so far.  I just hope we still have a gun to shoot them with if, or when, they interfere with our flock.

  7. Aaron Miller

    Large predators must be removed, or at least neighbors should be notified of their presence. A fox is anything but a large predator. But with so many rat-dogs in neighborhoods these days, predators don’t have to be very big.

    My sister once saw a wolf a few blocks from her house in a woodland neighborhood. She notified one agency or another, and they told her, “You live in the woods.” I can accept that answer. But I could also accept someone shooting it. People come first.

    If someone shot a fox on his lawn, I might object but I would not call the police. Your home is your castle.

  8. Man With the Axe

    Carol’s tale of bureaucratic resistance to common sense is not uncommon. In my rural neighborhood of about 10 houses one of them had a swimming pool without a fence. This went unremarked for some years until the house next door was sold to a family with two small children (4 and 2). On behalf of that family I called the township office to inquire about the legality of the pool, and was told that pools must be fenced, but this one was “grandfathered” in because it pre-dated the local ordinance. I suggested that the kids next door can just as easily drown in a grandfathered pool, but I was met with a “There’s nothing I can do” response. Fortunately, before a lawsuit was filed the pool owners, noticing the children next door, built a fence on their own initiative.

  9. jarhead
    C

    The only thing to be concerned about is the rare wild animal which has rabies. 

  10. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    She: As with everything else, there’s a balance.  And I say that speaking as my mother’s daughter–the mother who, while washing the car one day on the pad next to the garage, was interrupted by the fox who (which?  that?) was running away from the local hunt.  She shooed it into the garage, closed the door, and then disclaimed all knowledge of it (him? her?) when the Master of the Hunt rode up. 

    And my mother once maced our own cat.

  11. John Murdoch

    Mollie!!!

    What. Are. You. Thinking?!?

    Foxes are generally nocturnal. Foxes are generally known carriers of rabies. If you see a cute little fox in broad daylight, there’s a very strong possibility that the fox is rabid.

    Do not wait for animal control. Shoot it. Before it bites one of your pets, or one of your children.

    Rabid animals are the single most compelling reason why semi-automatic weapons in the hands of homeowners are a good thing. I’m not the slightest bit worried about the zombie apocalypse–but I do worry about the fauna amidst the flora in the Thousand-Acre Wood (state park) next door.

  12. John Murdoch

    They’re not that rare. I live next to a state park in Pennsylvania. Here, we’re supposed to regard nocturnal animals with suspicion–and to presume that any raccoon or fox seen in broad daylight is rabid.

    jarhead: The only thing to be concerned about is the rare wild animal which has rabies.

  13. John Murdoch
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    And I say that speaking as my mother’s daughter–the mother who, while washing the car one day on the pad next to the garage, was interrupted by the fox who (which?  that?) was running away from the local hunt.  She shooed it into the garage, closed the door, and then disclaimed all knowledge of it (him? her?) when the Master of the Hunt rode up. 

    I know a lot of people involved with fox hunting (including an MFH). I’m told that it’s completely different in England than in the U.S.–in England, the hunt is actually out to find and kill foxes. In the U.S., where farmers have shotguns, the point of the hunt is to get dressed up, liquored up, and ride around the neighborhood with a bunch of dogs underfoot.

    English hunters who ride with American hunts are appalled–Americans do “drag hunts” where a smelly object is hauled through the woods, leaving a scent for the dogs to chase.

    Americans actually chasing a real, live fox? Amazing.

  14. Eeyore

    Like Owl of Minerva, I live in the RTP area of NC. But like John Murdoch, we have been advised by “the authorities” to be wary of any fox or skunk seen in the open in daylight, as there are so many woods for them to hunt in, and thus have a high probability of being rabid.

    True to form, a few years ago, a neighbor two doors down saw a fox coming out of the woods during the daytime. As a precaution, he headed quickly the few steps to his house. Too late, the fox ran up and bit him, then ran off. 

    He began prophylactic rabies shots, subsequently hearing that the same fox had bitten someone in the next neighborhood, been caught by Animal Control, and was rabid.

  15. Mama Toad

    My neighborhood is rural. We love wildlife watching. Yesterday I halted a history lesson when I saw several deer racing through the yard though the window past my son’s head. I don’t know why they were running, but we’ve also seen bucks fighting in our yard during mating season.

    We keep ten hens. They are usually fenced in, although we let them roam with a chicken-herder every day. The reason they are fenced in is the coyotes and foxes, not to mention the hawks, that have killed a number of their sisterhood over the years. 

    Foxes are crepuscular, not nocturnal, but we occasionally see them during the day without fearing they are rabid. Foxes are shy and like to hide at the edges between woods or brush and wider-open spaces, so one running down the main drag would cause concern. I’d fear rabies too.

    Around Thanksgiving there was a rabid raccoon in our area that we saw snarling at us and passing cars over the course of several days. We called the DEC and they sent out an officer, but we didn’t see the coon while he was here. Rabies is no joke. 

  16. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C

    Despite having shared property with deer, foxes, bald eagles, raccoons  and black bears,  the biggest hassle I’ve ever had with wildlife has been with the wild turkeys here in Massachusetts.

    There’s a flock of about 15-20 that lives near my apartment.  For most of the year, they’re kind of fun to have around.  But during mating season in early spring, they become hormonal basket cases that will charge cars, surround pedestrians, gobble at each other constantly, and peck at anything vaguely shiny.  They’re also really good at sensing who’s afraid of them (most of the neighbors) and will act extra-aggressively toward them.   It’s amusing for the first few days, maddening for the next month.

    Hunting with a firearm is, of course, prohibited within city limits and the darn things are protected around here anyway.  The only convenient (legal) recourse I could find was hiring someone with a crossbow and the necessary permits to take them out, which I wasn’t too keen on paying for.  Fortunately for the birds, mating season ended before I had a chance to make a decision.

  17. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C
    Mama Toad:

    Foxes are crepuscular, not nocturnal, but we occasionally see them during the day without fearing they are rabid. Foxes are shy and like to hide at the edges between woods or brush and wider-open spaces, so one running down the main drag would cause concern. I’d fear rabies too.

    My experience as well; near my parents house in Washington State, there are dozens of foxes that prey on the local rabbit population.  It’s not uncommon to see them during the day, though they’re not really doing much then.

    The exception to this was the Blonde Fox, whose vocation in life was to humiliate our dog whenever possible (sadly, quite often).  Its usual method was to stay slightly beyond her lead and cause her to drag the driftwood it was attached to across the road until it got stuck in the ditch.  But on at least two occasions, it waited for her take a nap, sneaked up within inches of her, and then “tagged” her with its paw before bolting for it.  My the time our dog was awake on her feet — really fast! — the cursed thing was already beyond her range.

  18. She

    John Murdoch–this was an extremely English, Worcestershire, fox hunt.

  19. Mama Toad
    Tom Meyer …

    The exception to this was the Blonde Fox, whose vocation in life was to humiliate our dog whenever possible (sadly, quite often).  Its usual method was to stay slightly beyond her lead and cause her to drag the driftwood it was attached to across the road until it got stuck in the ditch.  But on at least two occasions, it waited for her take a nap, sneaked up within inches of her, and then “tagged” her with its paw before bolting for it.  My the time our dog was awake on her feet — really fast! — the cursed thing was already beyond her range. 

    Blonde Fox is a great story — thank you for sharing this.

  20. Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C
    Mama Toad

    Blonde Fox is a great story — thank you for sharing this.

    Actually, there’s a second half of it. 

    When I told my family, my mother simply refused to believe that Blonde Fox had actually touched the dog: I must have seen it from an angle, etc.  However much I insisted, she was certain I was mistaken.

    Two years later, I was at the office when she called; I figured it  was something important, as she usually didn’t call during the day:

    Me: Hi, Mom.  Everything okay?

    Mom: TOM, I SAW IT!!!

    Me: Wait… what?  Saw what?  What’s going on?  Are you alri–

    Mom: I JUST SAW THE FOX TAG THE DOG, JUST LIKE YOU SAID!!!  YOU WERE RIGHT!!!

    It’s not often a son gets a full-out vindication like that.

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