Foxes becoming part of the neighborhood in Jefferson

FoxCity dwellers don’t give a stray cat a second look, but a new breed of strays in Jefferson gets plenty of second looks. The number of foxes in Jefferson has increased enough that many residents, even some living within only a few blocks of the courthouse square have seen them.

According to county conservation director Dan Towers, the number of foxes in town has grown because the coyote population has also grown. “They’ve come to town looking for a safe place to be,” Towers said. “There have always been fox in town, but this year we’re seeing more of them.”

Coyotes are the only natural predators of foxes. Towers said that coyote numbers declined last summer, allowing fox numbers in increase. He estimates there are five litters in town for as many as 30 total foxes, and most that he has seen appear to be very healthy.

He explained that foxes are carnivores, eating squirrels, rabbits and mice. They’ll also help themselves to garbage or to dog food left outside.

Urban foxes are harmless in most cases. Towers said they are not afraid of humans, but they aren’t aggressive animals. They’re unlikely to approach a dog or a cat, and they’re also not so tame that they’d approach a child.

At this time of year fox pups are with their parents. They disperse in December or so, looking for their own territory while their adult parents winter in one location. Fox pups are easy to lure into a live trap, and in a few instances, Towers has trapped fox pups in town and relocated them to where he knows other foxes are located. He also relocates raccoons and skunks from town to places they’ll find food.

He said he has had more calls this summer about foxes – and about raccoons and skunks, too – than in previous years, “but most people think it’s pretty neat and they enjoy seeing them.”

“I think it’s cool that people who don’t normally see them can see them trotting down the street,” Towers said.

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