Police, wildlife officers respond to concerns

Last updated: August 09. 2014 7:31AM - 784 Views
By Chase Jordan cjordan@civitasmedia.com

Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentAnn May, an extension wildlife biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, talks about foxes and other wildlife in the area.
Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentAnn May, an extension wildlife biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, talks about foxes and other wildlife in the area.
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Preventing conflicts with foxes

Don’t try to approach or pet a fox — Enjoy the sighting of a fox, and other wildlife, from a respectful distance.

Don’t feed foxes or any wild animals — or they will lose their fear of people. Feeding a fox rewards it for coming

near people. Once a fox becomes habituated to people, it may become bold and aggressive.

Secure garbage in containers — with tight-fitting lids, and take them out in the morning of pick up, not the night

before. Coyotes and other wildlife will scavenge trash.

Feed pets indoors or remove food —when your pet is fin ished eating outside. Foxes and other wildlife are attracted to pet food left outdoors.

Keep bird-feeder areas clean — use bird feeders that keep seed off the ground. Foxes are attracted to small animals congregating on the ground. If you frequently see foxes, remove all feeders.

Close off crawl spaces — under sheds, porches, decks and homes. Foxes may use these spaces to rest or to build their dens.

Secure pets — or keep them indoors. Dogs and cats can disturb dens, prompting aggressive foxbehavior from the foxes.

Install fox-proof fencing — around your home, chicken coop or rabbit pen to protect unsupervised domestic pets.

Yell, bang pots and pans or set off legal fireworks — to scare foxes from your yard. This will also maintain their wariness of people.

Clear fallen fruit from around trees.

Educate your neighbors — Your efforts to prevent fox conflicts will be less effective if neighbors are still providing foods.

If you think you have a problem with a fox

  • Implement the non-lethal steps described above.
  • Call local animal control if the fox exhibits signs of rabies, such as aggression, stumbling and foaming at the mouth.
  • It is illegal to relocate foxes in North Carolina due to the potential to spread diseases and because this would simply move the problem, rather than solve it. The solution is to modify your habits and prevent foxes from being attracted to your home.
  • If the fox has caused property damage, contact a Wildlife Damage Control Agent, a private individual who charges for his/her services. A list is available at www.ncwildlife.org under “Coexisting with Wildlife.”
  • Foxes can be hunted in some counties using firearms and archery equipment. However, check to see if local ordinances restrict the discharge of firearms and go to www.ncwildlife.org for hunting season dates and areas.
  • Foxes can be trapped in some counties during the local fox trapping season. Go to www.ncwildlife.org to see if your county has a fox trapping season.

Source: N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

With their large pointed ears, upturned snouts and bushy tails, foxes are startling some residents in town.

But according to Ann May of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the foxes have fear of people too. However, they are also curious.

May, an extension wildlife biologist, spoke with residents at Clinton’s City Hall, about foxes and other animals in North Carolina. Hosted by Clinton Police Department, the educational meeting was a result of sightings within the city limits of Clinton.

Pam McGuirt said she encountered a fox while she was jogging with her dog on a Sunday morning.

“I just ran back to the house because I was scared,” McGuirt said about the fox following her.

May said it’s a sign that the fox is becoming too friendly in a particular area. But it turned away - a sign that it’s still scared of humans.

“Stop, look right at that animal and that will cause it to quickly turn away,” she said.

May advised the residents to throw a couple of tennis balls at a safe distance, to reinstall fear in them. Yelling, banging pots and legal fireworks also work.

McGuirt recently spotted one on the Sunset Avenue School property in the daytime. She was concerned about children on the playground. May said noise from the playground will keep the fox away.

Another concern was rabies. May said if a fox had rabies a few weeks ago, it would be dead today.

Although residents are wary of foxes and other animals, they may actually be attracting them to yards. Some of the problems include unsecure garbage cans, pet food, bird feeders and fallen fruit from trees. Dogs can be considered prey so they have to be protected.

Residents have spotted in neighborhoods around Bellfield, the Clinton Cemetery and the Coharie Country Club.

Many people would like to see them go away, but it’s illegal to relocate foxes in North Carolina because of the potential of them spreading disease.

May also discussed lethal and non-lethal options to discourage animals such as foxes, coyotes, snakes and raccoons. In certain counties, foxes can be hunted or trapped.

If residents feel they are in danger, they are advised to call animal control if the fox shows signs of rabies, such as aggression, stumbling and foaming at the mouth.

Assistant Police Chief Donald Edwards said the department appreciated the information, which will be shared with the public to provide education and awareness.

“I think the information that Ann provided was very beneficial to those who have encountered wildlife inside of the city,” Edwards said.

McGuirt appreciated the advice as well.

“I’ve been carrying around mace,” McGuirt said. “But I’m going to get some rocks to put in my pocket now when I walk dog.”

(Chase Jordan can be reached at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter@SampsonInd.)

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