Fox stalking

Fox Stalk

One of these days I'll get a good photo.

By Liz Clancy Lerner

I've become a bit obsessed with staring at my backyard.

It all started when I noticed paw prints in the snow a few months ago. They were about the size of a dog's, but in an area of the yard where Henry, our 50-pound-mutt doesn't go.

Then a few weeks later I saw movement on the top of a brush-laiden hill near the house. I couldn't quite figure out what was moving until I caught a glimpse of its burnt orange fur.

It was a pair of red fox.

Since then I do my work near the window, plan my schedule so I'm home around noon (when the two fox are usually out) and keep my camera by me at all times.

I keep looking out the window wondering if they'll frolic with my dog, a la The Fox and The Hound.

As it turns out, they're no fisher but they're pretty fantastic, those fox. And while they probably won't play with my dog -- they're not likely to hurt him either.

Here are a few quick fox facts...

Fox Stalk 2

Facts About Fox

+ They are said to be in every county in New York state and are the most widely distributed carnivore in the world.

+ They're about 3 feet long and usually weigh no more than 20 lbs. If they encounter a dog they'll get scared and run away.

+Seven fox tested positive in the Capital Region last year.

+ Fox live in dens. Often, they expand abandoned woodchuck or other small mammal burrows to suit their needs.

+ They're monogamous and they breed this time of year (December through April with a peak in January and February). Females usually give birth 51-53 days after conception and males stay with the family and help raise the young.

+ They eat rabbits, mice, squirrels, some birds and some fruit.

+ Their predators are hunters, trappers our cars, coyote and occasionally fisher, weasel and bobcat though they can run up to 30mph, so they're usually hard to catch.

+ They have a territory that they mark with urine and scat. If there are any territory disputes with other fox, they're usually not violent: chasing, torment and harassment are pretty common though.

+ The red fox aren't the only in our area. Gray fox (they're primarily nocturnal), also know as tree fox are also scattered around New York.

+ They're primarily active during twilight at dawn and dusk and night. However, it's not rare to see them sunning themselves or looking for prey during the day.

* Thanks to Jackie Cintriniti, an environmental educator at the Albany Pine Bush.

Comments

Also awesome: they were man's (former) BFF.

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/19/133898499/mans-first-best-friend-might-have-been-a-fox?ft=1&f=1001

That is very cool! I love backyard wildlife encounters. We saw a fox cross our front yard once, but we've never seen a pair of them.

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