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Foxes Becoming Familiar Daytime Sight

Animals  (tags: animals, foxes, suburbs, sightings, AnimalWelfare, environment, habitat, protection, wildlife )

- 3253 days ago -
But Charles Brown, a biologist with the state Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife, said it's not unusual to see a fox crossing a street in mid-day at this time of year.

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Jamie L (195)
Thursday June 25, 2009, 7:39 pm
I would be wary of nocternal animals active in the daytime... usually that's a sign of something wrong, sometimes disease like rabies... hmmmm... Thanks Cher!


They’re causing local drivers to do double-takes as they dash across suburban streets.

Others are providing entertainment from backyard windows and front porches, and one fox was seen face to face with a brave little Narragansett cat.

But Charles Brown, a biologist with the state Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, said it’s not unusual to see a fox crossing a street in mid-day at this time of year.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” he said. The parent foxes have had a few pups and now “it’s time to experience the world,” he said.

Or, it’s time to find food for the children.

“They have hungry mouths to feed. They might be pushing the envelope a little bit. If they have four or five pups, they get hungry.”

Brown said he hasn’t fielded any more telephone calls than usual in recent days regarding fox sightings. But when the Independent sent out an e-mail requesting anecdotes, the paper received 24 responses, including a number of photos documenting the animals in Wakefield, Peace Dale and Green Hill.

Audubon Society of Rhode Island spokesman Jeff Hall said he isn’t hearing of higher numbers, though “I did see one yesterday, in fact right near my house.”

“It’s not unusual. No, not really. Right now, all creatures are out roaming,” he said.

But one fox seems to be making his frequent Main Street crossings near Wakefield’s A Quick Tire, said owner Cindy Almonte, who said her staff has noticed it several times.

Residents have reported seeing foxes near South Kingstown High School, the Kingston Train Station and in a yard near the South Kingstown Town Beach in Matunuck.

That one was attempting to raid a bird nest.

“He was about 45 inches long, taller than a red fox with a big bushy gray and white tail, salt and pepper gray body, brownish legs, perked-up ears with white and gray tufts,” wrote Kim A. Hanson in an e-mail.

“Could be scavenging,” said Brown.

“Any available food source in terms of trash or pet food, compost bins or bird feeders” becomes like an outdoor supermarket to a fox attempting to feed a family, he said.

Rabid foxes have been reported in past years in South County, but Brown said “it’s never a textbook case” in recognizing a sick animal.

Early last summer, Jennifer Phillips, the vicar of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Kingston, was in the back yard of her Bayberry Road home gardening when she saw a fox coming toward her. It crossed 20 feet before biting her in the hand and leg. It turned out that the fox was rabid. It was captured by a DEM officer and destroyed and sent to the Department of Health for rabies testing.

“They sort of look dumb, unresponsive and might appear aggressive,” Brown said of rabid foxes.

According to the DEM Web site, symptoms exhibited by infected animals “may include unusual behavior such as listlessness, aimless wandering, poor coordination, unprovoked aggression and self-mutilation.”

The Web site says “the rabies virus is concentrated in the saliva of infected animals and is spread when they bite or scratch. It can also be passed without an actual bite occurring when the saliva of an infected animal is introduced into a wound or into the eyes or mouth of a person handling a rabid animal.”

Wounds should be immediately flushed, and a physician, the state Department of Health and DEM contacted.

As for those little foxes wandering around town these days, Brown said as they grow, the animals look for something more substantial, such as birds, berries and nuts, to eat.

Like college students who go off on their own in the fall, the same holds true for the little foxes.

“They don’t stay with the parents for too long. At the end of the summer, they’ll go off on their own,” he said.

But a fox, he said, is inclined to “go the other way” if you come face to face with it.

“It isn’t an indication of anything,” Brown said of coming across a fox crossing the road in the middle of the day.

Foxes, he said, “aren’t that much larger than cats,” and some cats might feel brave enough to stand their ground, but Brown said residents should “take steps to protect their pets,” because there are other predators out there, such as coyotes.

The DEM’s Web site notes two species of foxes in Rhode Island, the gray fox and the red fox, and both are characterized by an elongated snout, pointed ears and a bushy tail that is carried horizontally.

Gray foxes are more commonly found in forested habitats, such as woodlands and swamps. Red foxes prefer a more open habitat, such as golf courses and suburban lawns.

But foxes also are found, it notes, in heavily urbanized areas, including Providence.

They are especially active at dawn and dusk when their prey is active. Mating season ends in April, and both foxes use dens in mating and reproductive season.

Fox pups are ready for real food by three weeks, which is perhaps a reason why so many have been spotted around town. It’s time to bring home the bacon, or at least, the remnants of someone’s trash can.

Any specific questions should be directed to Brown’s office, and he also said there’s a plethora of information on the DEM’s Web site,

Residents with animal concerns can call the department at 789-0281.

Lloyd Albert of Bonnet Shores says he sees so many animals, including foxes, in his densely populated neighborhood that he doesn’t feel a need to go to Roger Williams Park.

“In just the past 48 hours in Bonnet, I’ve seen a fox, a doe, numerous rabbits, swans, Canada geese, a muskrat, a heron, two snapping turtles (but no partridge in a pear tree),” he wrote in an e-mail.

The fox he has spotted in his yard seems to be searching for a comfortable place to sit.

Albert said the fox was “weaving through the lawn furniture.”

Perhaps he was searching for the same things humans have been searching for these past few days.

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