Red Fox kits have become a great attraction on San Juan Island. This is the time of year when they are first venturing out of the den to take a look at the world. They’re cute and curious so of course people want to get close to watch them and are tempted to offer them food.
Injured red fox kit. Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center photo
Whether its local people feeding the kits or visiting photographers trying to get closer for the perfect photo, this close contact with humans is not what’s best for the foxes in the long run.
To have a good chance of surviving in the wild, young foxes have just a few months to learn all the necessary skills from their parents. Among other things, they must learn what to eat and how to catch it, how to avoid cars and predators, including dogs, and to be wary of people.
Kits that constantly see, smell and hear people from the moment they poke their noses out of the den are less likely to learn these skills and to survive when they move away from their parent’s territory.
A fox with a raw chicken leg received from a person in the Cape San Juan area of San Juan Island. Clara Chengs photo
Instead of learning how to hunt voles, they are learning to beg for snacks. Instead of being wary of people, they are tempted to hang out near houses or roads where they are more likely to be hit by a car, injured by a dog, or shot for being perceived as a threat to kids, pets or domestic animals.
Please help fox kits stay safe and wild by watching them from a distance and by helping friends and neighbors understand that the best thing we can do for these creatures is leave them in peace to live their wild lives.
- Shona Aitken, Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center