Charlottetown like a 'smorgasbord' for foxes, says councillor

Dave Stewart
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This red fox is doing what wild foxes are supposed to do - catch their own food. In this Guardian file photo a fox pounces on a field mouse that it wasted no time in eating once it dug it out from its burrow.

Residents in Charlottetown will likely be target of information campaign with message being don't feed wild animals

Don't feed the foxes:  that's a message residents in Charlottetown will likely be hearing soon.

Coun. David MacDonald, chairman of the protective and emergency services committee, said there is going to be a meeting soon between multiple groups trying to deal with the number of wild foxes in the capital city.

That meeting will involve researchers at UPEI looking at the issue and provincial wildlife officials.

It isn't sounding like there is going to be an actual bylaw that would penalize residents for feeding these animals. It's hard to enforce one provincewide, much less in the city.

One resident called MacDonald recently to complain that a neighbour was feeding wild foxes twice a day.

"Twice a day on her neighbour's driveway there's between 12 and 15 foxes congregating because this neighbour feeds them,'' MacDonald said. "The fox is not the issue. It's the fact that people are creating these hotspots where the foxes congregate. These are wild animals. They are generally very docile and are not a threat to humans but they could be to pets.''

Researchers at UPEI have been attaching transponders to the necks of some foxes to give them an idea where the foxes are going and where the trouble spots are.

In one piece of data wildlife officials analyzed, there were 4,000 areas where one particular fox went over a one-month period but there was one specific area where 2,000 foxes were visiting on a regular basis.

"It turns out this particular area was where foxes were being fed so while foxes might routinely go from point A to point B and to point C in their area, they might go 10 particular times to this hotspot area.''

As one wildlife officer said, foxes, like any animal, search for three things:  food, shelter and water. And all are plentiful in Charlottetown.

"It's like a smorgasbord for foxes,'' MacDonald said. "When you start treating foxes like pets they start showing up at mealtime. It does put real pets in danger and it really puts the fox in danger because it takes them out of the way they do things; out of their natural habitat.''

The end result isn't going to be a bylaw but most likely an education campaign.

"There is talk that we are going to have some kind of information session in the parks where we're going to explain to the residents how what they're doing is not in the best interest of the foxes or the city or themselves.''

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: UPEI

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Billy P
    June 11, 2014 - 18:24

    Captain Canuck is 100% correct! So you animal/rodent/disease carrying lovers can all back off on this issue it needs to be dealt with asap!

  • SlyFox
    June 11, 2014 - 16:54

    If the foxes are a threat to pets,then why don't pet owner keep a better watch on said pets? How many people have been attacked by the foxes to date? Do we dare compare that said numbers to attacks of house pets against people? These foxes are in the city because they were either born in the city or were chased out of there wooded area by larger animals.Maybe we need more fear mongering about foxes to get a bounty on them.

  • same story
    June 11, 2014 - 13:14

    Charlottetown needs to finance another study on foxes . There must be some money that can be used for this

  • Skunk hater
    June 11, 2014 - 13:07

    Foxes eat skunks. I will take fox over skunk any day. Please do keep feeding them.

  • reality
    June 11, 2014 - 10:33

    Remember --everytime you feed a fox you save the life of a mouse or some other poor rodent

    • black plague
      June 11, 2014 - 12:31

      correct. Then our city can become overcome with rodents and foxes! yay!

  • relocate
    June 11, 2014 - 09:48

    CBC reports 42 active dens in Charlottetown area... Time to look into relocating before population gets way out of hand.

    • natural cycle
      June 11, 2014 - 11:03

      Just wait until we get a rabies outbreak and the cute rabid foxes start attacking people. Then the public will be howling.

  • Janice
    June 11, 2014 - 09:02

    I believe the foxes were there first, the city keeps expanding and pushing the foxes and other wildlife out taking away THEIR natural habitat. Maybe you should think of that..Really how would you feel if someone built a home right in your yard with out permission and then they complained that they did not want you there anymore because you were a nuisance or a danger, and they fought to have you removed and basically starve to make their point?..

    • Piet Hein
      June 11, 2014 - 09:54

      It is true that the city is expanding, but it is the coyotes that are forcing the foxes into the city and once they get here they like it for the reasons listed in the story. There is no way a fox is going to starve in the city so feeding them is a waste of time not to mention putting their lives in danger. A fox that is fed by humans loses its fear of humans and that is when the trouble begins. By feeding a fox you are essentially signing its death warrant because in an altercation between human and fox the fox always loses. The National Park here had to crack down on people feeding foxes because the animals were hanging around the roadways and being injured and killed. People who feed wild animals may mean well, but they should educate themselves on the consequences of doing so. Foxes are very adept at fending for themselves and do not need us humans to help them.

    • Captain Canuck
      June 11, 2014 - 14:27

      Janice, you can't get more wrong than that. The fox was imported to PEI for the fur industry and escaped or were abandoned. And to Skunk Hater: fox do not eat skunk unless the skunk, which is also not native to PEI (fur industry again) is roadkill.