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Red foxes venture out during daytime: reports

Red fox in grass

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Posted on: June 6, 2024

By BODE RAMSAY

College Park residents have been reporting more red foxes in the city this spring.

Joshua Tabora, a furbearer biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said the foxes, which are nocturnal animals, often emerge during the day in the spring as they search for food for their newborn kits. Furbearer biologists are professional wildlife biologists who monitor populations of fur-bearing mammals.

Foxes “are having their young early- to mid-April until the middle of June,” Tabora said.

People sometimes misinterpret the foxesÕ daytime presence as a problem, he said.

“There’s the old wives’ tale that if you’re seeing a nocturnal animal out during the daytime that it must be unhealthy or that there must be something wrong,” Tabora said.

Ryna Qui–ones, the city’s communications and events manager, said foxes usually are not a threat to people.
A red fox “does not usually pose a problem, unless humans start to try to approach wildlife, which is always dangerous,” Qui–ones said in an email. “Usually when left alone, red foxes are passive to humans and pets.”

However, Tabora said red foxes can become somewhat territorial around their young.

Tabora said pet owners might see a fox following them as they walk on a trail or through the woods and interpret this as a sign of aggression.

In reality, however, the red fox is monitoring what it sees as a potential predator from a distance to protect itself and its young, Tabora said.

“A fox may appear agitated, but [it] will typically maintain a safe distance,” Tabora said.

If a fox does get too close, making loud noises will scare it and keep it fearful of humans, according to a press release issued by the city.

The city issued the release after a number of reported sightings to alert residents that they might see the nine- to 12-pound mammals inside city limits.

The release advised residents to keep children and pets away from foxes and also warned residents not to feed them.
Tabora also advised residents to secure trash cans, close entryways and block holes around their homes. This could prevent a fox from being attracted to kitchen scraps and denning on the property.

The press release added that people should not try to capture a fox on their property. In fact, Maryland law forbids anyone without a furbearer or wildlife control permit to trap or relocate any wild animal.

Foxes do not pose much danger to pets, like dogs or cats, though they are known for killing rabbits and chickens, Tabora said.

In fact, red foxes typically prey on rodents, birds and insects; they also eat some types of fruit, Qui–ones said.

Red foxes sometimes contract rabies, so the city has urged residents to report sightings to the College Park animal control officer.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include foaming at the mouth, excessive drooling, appearing confused or lethargic, and losing natural fear of humans and animals, Tabora said.

Rabies can neurologically compromise the animal and cause it to walk around in circles for a long period, Tabora said. Rabies also could cause a red fox to become aggressive and bite someone. Rabies in humans can be managed but rarely cured and can lead to serious illness or death.

The red foxes could all but disappear during the day by July, as the fox kits become more independent, Tabora said.

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