May 13th
Fox Interactions in the Waterloo Region

With the arrival of spring comes the emergence of wild animals - squirrels, skunks, raccoons, and more commonly in recent years, foxes. Foxes are wild canines that have adapted well to our urban environments, often living in earth banks dug out of loose soil, or taking over dens from smaller animals such as rabbits and badgers. When the opportunity arises, a fox will create a home anywhere with proper shelter, and easy access to food and water. The area beneath decks, sheds, and porches provides the perfect habitat for foxes to avoid predators and raise their young, which is unfortunate for homeowners in the Kitchener/Waterloo area.

Fox dens typically have multiple entrances to allow the animals to escape from danger at a moment’s notice, and are usually south-facing for warmth. As with all urban wildlife, foxes keep multiple dens in a neighbourhood, but spend the majority of their time in the safest area with the easiest access to food. The most common foxes across Southern Ontario are red foxes, and while the name suggests otherwise, not all red foxes are actually red. They may appear brown or black depending on their lineage.

There are multiple reasons why you do not want foxes living on your property. Any wild animal living in close proximity to your home can create a number of problems - the potential for a threatening encounter with a pet and exposure to a number of wildlife-carried diseases, including rabies. Keeping your property tidy and free of clutter will help make it less inviting to foxes and access to below decks and sheds can be blocked by burying a heavy gauge wire mess into the ground.

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding dangerous fox encounters. First, avoid leaving out any food sources such as pet food and fallen fruit, and ensure bird feeders are kept tidy and placed as far away from your home as possible. Keep your pets vaccinated against rabies, and teach children to only observe wildlife from a respectable distance. Avoid sticking around for long periods of time if you observe a fox in the wild, as this may cause them stress or encourage them to lose their fear of human interaction. This fear is a necessary survival skill for foxes to avoid life threatening situations, such as travelling through traffic.

Foxes are shy and intelligent creatures, and will avoid human interaction whenever possible. There is no imminent threat to coexisting with foxes - with proper distance and respect, we are able to live harmoniously without fear of one another. If you do happen to face a fox head on, maintain eye contact and slowly retreat to a more crowded area. Avoid the urge to run, as foxes may interpret your fast movements as a threat and be more inclined to attack. Generally, fox encounters are safe, but if you come across a fox that seems distraught or vicious, please call 9-1-1.

Wild animal encounters can be a beautiful experience, especially during the spring months. With proper distance and admiration, we can coexist peacefully with foxes. For more information about keeping yourself and foxes safe in Ontario, visit www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/dont-feed-the-foxes/.