Winter is coming, and with it will come a rash of red fox sightings in suburban areas of New York and Connecticut.
Foxes commonly live in close quarters with human residents in certain communities where they can find food, water and cover, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. They frequently take shelter in yards, parks, and golf courses, especially areas that are nearby suitable, undeveloped habitat.
During the winter months, foxes expand their territories, primarily due to the decreased availability of prey and extreme weather in open spaces. This leads to an increase in sightings around residential communities.
According to the Connecticut DEEP, “foxes can become accustomed to human activity but are seldom aggressive toward people. The problems that are associated with foxes in residential areas come when they prey on domestic animals, a perceived threat to humans and their potential to carry disease.
The DEEP noted that "the mere presence of a fox should not be perceived as a problem and foxes need not be feared." The DEEP has outlined several simple steps local residents can take to avoid a sticky situation with a fox:
Do not allow pets to run free: "Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs on a leash and under close supervision at all times."
Never feed foxes: "Do not put out food for any mammals. Feed pets indoors. Clean up fruit dropped from trees and bird seed below feeders. Secure garbage in animal-proof containers and store in a garage or shed. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause foxes to act tame and may lead to bold behavior over time."
Close off crawl spaces under decks and sheds: "Foxes will use these areas for resting and raising young."
Protect livestock: "Foxes will prey on small livestock, such as ducks, chickens, rabbits, and young lambs, but generally, do not bother larger livestock. Livestock can be protected with secure pens, coops, or fencing. Make sure the enclosures prevent entry from above and below as foxes will dig or squeeze under poorly maintained fences and may climb over small fences. Most predation occurs at night so it is particularly important to provide protection at that time. Some electric fence designs can provide good protection."
Use frightening techniques: "Human presence often is a deterrent to foxes. Foxes that travel into residential yards can be harassed or scared with loud noises, bright lights, or spraying water from a hose. Disturbing a den site physically or with unnatural odors during spring may prompt foxes to move to another den which may be farther away."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.