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.)