Council targets friendly red fox

What’s next to go — backyard bird feeders

Published on August 16, 2014

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. Charlottetown city council said it is geting complaints about some residents feeding the animals.

©Guardian file photo by Brian McInnis

Going back 150 years ago this month, when the Fathers of Confederation arrived in port, it’s likely that the occasional fox was peering at them from behind shrubbery around the Charlottetown waterfront as they rowed ashore, curious about what all the fuss was about.

Then, the town was still largely agrarian, with farmers’ fields and woods encroaching on streets at every turn. As the town expanded, it seized more and more of the red foxes’ territory. We were the invaders and interlopers, displacing our furry friends from their habitat.

Today, members of Charlottetown city council are fixated on stopping members of the public from feeding foxes, as if it’s some major crime. “Hardcore” offenders are going to be targeted even though the city hopes that education will put a stop to most of the problem. The issue seems to come up for discussion at every meeting.

Council had considered asking the province for a law banning the feeding of foxes, but legal opinion now suggests that present legislation might enable it to take action. In the P.E.I. National Park, it’s illegal to feed foxes — or any wildlife for that matter — where offenders can face a minimum fine of $220. Staff at UPEI warns we are doing harm to the foxes by feeding them. They become fearless of humans, become dependent on handouts, can’t hunt for themselves and run the risk of starvation. National organizations are even more strident in their warnings and threats.

The city says its concerns are not limited to foxes. It also takes into account the safety of small household pets at risk to hungry foxes, plus there is a potential threat to humans as well from rabid animals. This week, a candidate for council is making it a campaign issue.

What is the stand of the city on feeding birds? Are backyard feeders next on the interdict list? Will those cheery blue jays on a snowy afternoon be banished to the barren Strathgartney hills? Bird feeders also supply the pesky crow with food, a pest that has defeated the best efforts of council for years to drive them from their Victoria Park and Brighton rookeries. Those dropping are a major nuisance.

Aren’t there more important matters to attend to than someone feeding a fox? Should we start live trapping vagrant robins?

 

Weekend thoughts

 

Can armageddon be far off, Prime Minister Stephen Harper must wonder today? The New York Times took the extraordinary position earlier this week of calling on the U.S. government to repeal the ban on marijuana. The Times said, “It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol. The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.” Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who has called for a similar change in Canada, has his chest puffed out just a little bit more today.

 

Statistics Canada admits it made an error in its labour force survey for July last week, when it said the economy created just 200 new jobs while analysts were projecting 20,000. Stats Can blamed human error when the actual figure should have been a robust 42,000. Did no one think something was wrong before grossly erroneous figures were released? The absence of a ‘4’ at the start, a ‘comma’ towards the middle and that extra ‘zero’ at the end should result in someone being fired.  It’s little wonder that low PISA test scores are a concern in Canada.